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malocclusion

How To Fix A Misaligned Jaw

Posted on: July 25, 2019

Smiling little boy holding a yellow skateboard on a yellow background

Many orthodontic patients suffer from a misaligned jaw that affects how teeth sit in the mouth and causes bite problems. Overbites, where the upper teeth protrude, and underbites, when the lower teeth sit out farther than the upper teeth, can cause physical and emotional discomfort. If left untreated, a misaligned jaw can affect how you eat, speak and sleep. Luckily, there are many types of orthodontic treatments and appliances that are used to correct misalignments and give you your confidence back. Find out what to do if you have a misaligned jaw with this guide!

 

What A Misaligned Jaw Looks Like

Many people receive orthodontic treatment to fix their crooked teeth, but braces can also resolve bite issues, as well. Braces are great ways to fix misaligned jaws in children and adults and help prevent the consequences of underbites and overbites. Misaligned jaws are often painful and obvious, and many children are unfortunately teased by their peers because of it. Our “bite” refers to how the upper and lower teeth meet together, which influences how we chew, eat and speak. The two most common bite problems are an underbite and overbite, with an underbite occurring whenever the lower jaw sits in front of the upper jaw while the overbite happens when the upper jaw protrudes abnormally over the lower jaw. While these deformities look awkward, they have consequences that are more serious than aesthetic concerns. Underbite create a bulldog appearance as the lower jaw protrudes out, which not only puts a lot of stress on the joints but also causes tooth wear. Overbites create buck teeth that stick out so far that they can easily break and make it difficult to close the mouth and lips. They also create an elongated face, speech problems and increase the likelihood of tooth decay as oral tissue dries out. Depending on the severity of the misalignment and which bite is involved, treatment options such as braces, cosmetic dentistry and surgery are common ways to fix the problem.

 

Treatment OptionsWoman smiling with braces

For crooked or crowded teeth and misaligned jaws, braces are the standard treatment performed for most patients. Traditional braces with brackets cemented to the teeth and attached with an archwire help with overbites to straighten the upper front teeth and bring them into a non-protruded position. For extreme cases of overbites and underbites, headwear braces may be necessary. These devices are made with internal and external wires, along with straps that fit over the head and neck, to move the upper jaw either forward or backward. Headwear braces are typically worn for 12-14 hours a day, but are only needed whenever traditional braces cannot fix misalignment. For underbites, an upper jaw expander is recommended to widen the palate of the mouth so that the lower teeth move back into position. The expander is placed in the upper palate of the mouth and widened each night with a special key, and after one year, the palate should be wide enough for both the upper and lower jaws to fit together. For the most serious cases of jaw misalignment, orthognathic jaw surgery will be required. Plates, screws and wires will be surgically placed into the jaw by a maxillofacial surgeon to permanently correct bite problems, which will greatly improve speech and sleep.

 

Importance of Orthodontic Visits

While many bite problems are obvious, some are so slight that detection will be hard to notice. In these cases, it’s important that children and adults have regular orthodontic visits so that teeth movement and development can be monitored. Orthodontic visits, especially in young children, are essential to observe incoming teeth, reduce the risk of impacted teeth, monitor jaw development and detect hidden dental issues. Not only will your teeth be examined, but your jaws and mouth will be reviewed for signs of underlying conditions, decay and disease, as well as thoroughly cleaned. These visits also provide patients the information they need to establish good dental habits early on to keep their teeth healthy and free from decay both during and after orthodontic treatment.

 

Get Straighter Teeth With Our Help!

At Belmar Orthodontics, we specialize in helping children and adults alike fix malocclusion, adjust misaligned jaws and get the smiles that they deserve. Whether you or your child has an underbite, overbite or crowded teeth, our team can help you remedy any issue that you are experiencing. Through specialized orthodontic treatment plans and advanced appliances, your mouth issues can be fixed within a short period of time. Call our office today at (303) 225-9016 to get a straighter smile today!

Woman holding Invisalign retainer in one hand with an impression of a mouth in the the other

While many teenagers need orthodontic care, some don’t like how traditional braces make them look or feel. With advances in modern technology and appliances that have been developed, teenagers have more options than ever to straighten their teeth without having to lose their confidence. Invisalign Teen offers the same benefits as traditional braces, but with the ability to use a clear, removable aligner. While nearly undetectable, teenagers will be able to get straight teeth without anyone knowing. Learn how Invisalign works and how your teenager can benefit from its groundbreaking system!

 

What Is Invisalign Teen?

Most teens will need orthodontic care, but many don’t like the look of traditional braces. Luckily, modern advances in orthodontic technology have created other options for them, such as Invisalign Teen, that allows kids to get straight teeth in one of the most discreet ways possible. Invisalign Teen eliminates the need for metal braces and brackets by replacing them with clear, removable aligners. Clear aligners work just as effectively as traditional braces but without the self-consciousness that metal braces typically bring. Before treatment begins, however, your teen will need an examination by their orthodontist and have diagnostic X-rays and impressions (molds) taken of their teeth. Crowded teeth and/or wisdom teeth may need to be removed before treatment begins so that the aligners can fit properly in the mouth. The orthodontist will then create a set of aligners that your child will wear, one after another, for the space of one to two years. These aligners will straighten their teeth over time, and each aligner will be replaced with another one as teeth begin shifting into proper alignment. Most patients will be required to wear their aligners anywhere from 20-22 hours per day, so your teen will need to be careful and consistent during their time with Invisalign.

 

Invisalign Teen offers many benefits other than invisible treatment. With Invisalign, your teen won’t have to sacrifice their favorite foods that tend to get stuck in traditional braces; all they need to do is remove the aligner to eat and drink, and they’re good to go. Your kid will also be able to continue playing the sports and activities that they love, and they’ll have less emergency visits since there are no wires or brackets that can break. Invisalign allows kids to use a mouthguard when playing sports and continue playing their instrument because it is removable. With Invisalign, your child will have newfound freedom that other orthodontic treatment can’t provide.

 

Taking Care of Invisalign Aligners

As with any other orthodontic appliance, your child will need to take strict care of their Invisalign aligners to keep them clean and free from damage. After they remove their aligner to eat or drink, it’s important that they brush their teeth before putting the aligner back in to prevent bacteria from building up on their teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. Additionally, your teen needs to brush their aligner each night before bed to keep them fresh and clean. Your teen will most likely be wearing their aligner for one to two weeks at a time, with a checkup every six to eight weeks to pick up their new aligner, so it’s essential that they keep their aligners in a safe place during that time. Aligners can break when dropped or can be damaged by pets or little siblings, so proper storage whenever they’re not being used will keep any accidents from happening.

 

Importance of Good Oral HygieneYoung boy brushing teeth while smiling

Having a good oral hygiene regimen will protect your child’s teeth from disease and keep their treatment plan on track. If teeth aren’t taken care of, orthodontic care can be slowed down as the orthodontist will have to address their cavities or tooth decay before treatment can continue. Brushing and flossing are essential before, during and after orthodontic care to keep teeth healthy and strong. Make sure that your teen is brushing with a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen their tooth enamel. Consistent flossing will also keep teeth decay-free by removing food particles that can get stuck and allow bacteria to grow. Additionally, using a fluoride mouthwash can aid brushing and flossing by adding the extra punch that teeth need to fight plaque and decay.

 

Scheduling A Consultation

If your teen would benefit from Invisalign, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016! Our team of dedicated professionals is experienced with fitting Invisalign Teen and helping your child feel comfortable and satisfied during orthodontic treatment. Call today to begin your teen’s treatment for a beautiful, confident smile!

 

Space Maintainers and Permanent Teeth

Posted on: April 26, 2019

Up close view of child smiling with a missing tooth

Whenever a child loses a tooth prematurely, a space maintainer may be needed to keep the space open so the permanent tooth can grow in correctly. Losing a baby tooth is a natural occurrence, but some baby teeth must be extracted due to dental decay. A space maintainer is a custom-made appliance that helps permanent teeth grow in correctly and prevent future oral health complications. If you are worried about the gap in between your child’s teeth, learn how a space maintainer can keep your child’s teeth straight and allow for proper tooth development!

 

Why Baby Teeth Fall Out Prematurely

Most children get their first full set of baby teeth by the age of 3, and these help them eat their food while serving as placeholders for their future permanent teeth. Occasionally, baby teeth are lost prematurely or permanent teeth erupt later than they should, so space maintainers have become a popular way to support the child’s mouth until the gaps are filled with permanent teeth. There are many reasons why children lose their baby teeth earlier than expected. For one, some experience trauma to the mouth, such as tripping or getting hit in the mouth with some object. Others lose teeth due to “baby bottle decay,” which occurs whenever a child falls asleep at either breast or bottle, or walks around with a bottle for large amounts of time. The sugar content in the milk causes enamel to decay and cavities to appear, which can lead to premature tooth loss. Genetic influences can also affect whether permanent teeth develop or not, which can leave gaps in the mouth. Although rare, some children suffer from oral infections that are severe enough to cause tooth loss, but this is not as common as an injury or baby bottle decay. Even though losing baby teeth prematurely is not inherently bad, the consequences of not having a tooth in the space where a permanent tooth will eventually erupt can cause some complications with malocclusion that will need orthodontic care later on. Space maintainers provide the mouth with the proper space for permanent teeth to erupt into while ensuring that other teeth do not crowd that area until the tooth develops.

 

How Space Maintainers Help

Space maintainers basically “hold space” for permanent teeth once a baby tooth has been lost prematurely. When adult teeth are ready to come into the mouth, there may not be enough room because of the lost space. For this reason, dentists recommend space maintainers to hold open any spaces left by the missing tooth. These devices are typically made of acrylic, with loops and bands made of steel wire to hold them in position. Space maintainers ensure that your child develops their permanent teeth in the right locations while giving support to the surrounding teeth. Teeth are notorious for moving or becoming loose without the support of surrounding teeth, so space maintainers also help other teeth stay in their proper places and not move into the gaps where the missing teeth were once located. Space maintainers aren’t for everyone, though. If your child loses a baby tooth shortly before a permanent tooth is expected to develop, a space maintainer isn’t necessary. For those patients whose permanent teeth won’t be developing for an extended amount of time, space maintainers come in handy to guide those teeth into proper alignment whenever they do erupt.

 

Type of AppliancesPicture of a partial denture with teeth in it

For those who choose space maintainers, they come in two different options: removable and fixed. Removable devices are made of acrylic and use artificial teeth to hold open the spaces. These are ideal for older children who are capable of removing and cleaning them on their own. For children with several missing teeth, partial dentures are another option to maintain the spaces in the mouth. Fixed maintainers are attached with dental cement to the teeth beside the gap. These are helpful for young children or those who have lost back teeth. Fixed retainers can be fitted on the upper or lower jaw to maintain space for front or back teeth. The device that your child will be given will depend upon the number and location of missing teeth in their mouth, but age is also considered, as well.

 

There are quite a few different options to choose from if your dentist recommends a fixed maintainer for your child. Some of the most popular options include:

 

  • Lingual holding arch: Used to maintain space for lower back teeth on both sides.
  • Band-and-loop device: Recommended when one or more baby molars are lost in one dental arch. Stainless steel wire that is held in place by orthodontic bands that allows the permanent tooth to erupt without blocking it.
  • Distal shoe appliance: Fitted over the baby first molar and maintains the space for the permanent molar once the tooth is lost.
  • Transpalatal arch: Fitted on the upper jaw to preserve space on both sides of the dental arch. Held in place by wire fastened around the surrounding teeth.

 

Each of these devices are custom-made to fit to your child’s mouth. The dentist will take impressions of your child’s teeth, then send that impression to the dental laboratory to create the appliance.

 

Advantages of Child Orthodontics

With the modern technology and tools that are available to dental patients, child orthodontics has become more popular and necessary to maintain the oral health of young kids. Especially if your child loses a baby tooth prematurely, visiting with an orthodontist early on can help detect hidden dental issues, observe the progress of incoming teeth, decrease the risk for permanent tooth extractions and guide incoming teeth into their ideal positions.

 

If your child is in need of a space maintainer or is having issues with crowded teeth, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our team is dedicated to your oral health and is ready to help your family get the beautiful smile that they deserve!

Whitening Teeth With Braces

Posted on: April 19, 2019

Woman smiling with white teeth and braces

Keeping teeth clean during braces is an important part of your oral health regimen, but keeping teeth white with braces sometimes presents a problem. Teeth whitening with braces is a common practice that orthodontic patients have done to keep their teeth white during orthodontic care. Which teeth whitening treatment you use will depend on what type of braces you have. Achieving a whiter smile is not impossible with braces, but will need extra effort and care to protect your braces. Find out how you can both whiten and straighten your teeth at the same time with these tips and tricks!

 

In-Office versus At-Home Treatments

Teeth whitening has been a popular choice of treatment for dental patients for years now, but orthodontic patients can now receive the same treatment, too, while getting their teeth straightened at the same time. Keeping your teeth clean while undergoing orthodontic treatment is an important step in maintaining good oral health, and teeth whitening options can enhance that process. With the variety of treatment options that orthodontic patients now have to straighten their teeth, there are plenty of ways to whiten teeth while receiving care. For patients who prefer whitening their teeth at the dental office, one option that patients can choose is “chairside bleaching.” This process requires one or two office visits in which a strong bleaching agent is applied to the teeth combined with a special light to accelerate the whitening effect and lift stains. For patients with brackets on the front of their teeth, chairside bleaching can cause a two-tone effect after traditional braces are removed, so sometimes it is best to bleach after your treatment is over. For patients with lingual braces (on the backside of teeth), though, it is relatively easy to whiten teeth during treatment since teeth whitening focuses on the front of the teeth and not the back. Removable braces and retainers also allow for successful teeth whitening as they allow all of the teeth to be uncovered.

 

Many patients prefer at-home teeth whitening treatments over in-office treatments because it allows them the flexibility to decide when and where they whiten their teeth. For at-home treatments, gel similar to those used in dental offices will be given to you that is inserted into a customized tray which is fit to your mouth. The gel uses peroxide to bleach the tooth enamel and whiten the tooth. Even those with braces can use these custom trays after braces have been placed in the mouth. The trays have to account for the space that brackets use so the gel doesn’t displace the bracket from the tooth. With at-home treatments, though, there is a larger risk of sensitivity and gum irritation if bleaching material leaks out of the tray. Both options for teeth whitening allow patients the freedom to get the best results during their orthodontic treatment but still get the same benefits that braces offer.

 

Things To Consider

When deciding on which type of teeth whitening you should do, it is important to remember that the type of braces you have dictates what kind of teeth whitening you can receive. As teeth shift during orthodontic treatment, tooth sensitivity and gum irritation can increase when using mouth trays or teeth whitening strips at home. Traditional braces use brackets on the front side of the teeth to correct malocclusion while other options, like lingual braces, use brackets on the backside of teeth to straighten teeth. Whitening teeth with lingual or removable braces is much easier for patients than those with traditional braces as brackets prevent a good portion of the tooth from bleaching agents. For this reason, most orthodontists recommend using teeth whitening products once braces are removed for most effectiveness. If you do choose to use teeth whitener during treatment with traditional braces and you feel some sensitivity/tenderness, make sure to avoid whitening for a while to give your teeth a break. Chewing gum can also help with any pain you might feel from whitening agents, as well as using sensitivity toothpaste. For additional insights into what to expect when using teeth whitener with braces, meet with your orthodontist to discuss which option is best for your mouth.

 

Everyday Teeth WhiteningWoman putting whitening stripes on teeth while looking in the mirrow

Many patients use everyday teeth whitening products to improve their smile rather than going to a dental office or using expensive products. As teeth whitening has become more popular, more and more products have been created to enhance smiles in the comfort of one’s home with a smaller price tag than traditional methods. For anyone, with or without braces, using a teeth whitening toothpaste is a great and easy way to whiten your smile and maintain good oral health at the same time. Even if you have sensitive teeth, there are still plenty of options for toothpaste that whiten teeth without putting your sensitive mouth at risk. There is also teeth whitening mouthwash that whitens and protects teeth from stains while freshening your breath at the same time. Switching from a manual to electric toothbrush can further whiten your teeth by polishing away surface stains that appear under braces. With all of the different dental items that can be tailored to your individual needs, you can have a whiter smile with braces in no time.

 

For more information on how you can whiten your teeth during orthodontic treatment, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our team is committed to helping you and your family get the healthiest and brightest smile possible!

Woman with straight teeth on one side of mouth and teeth with braces on other side

Many orthodontic patients use braces so that they can have straight teeth, but that’s not the only reason why orthodontic care is so important. Having straight teeth can minimize the likelihood of tooth decay and tooth loss while improving your bite, which affects your ability to chew and speak. Correcting crooked teeth can also improve your oral hygiene and strengthen teeth. Learn more about the positive effects that straight teeth can have on your oral health through this guide!

 

How Straight Teeth Can Help You

One of the main goals of braces is to create a straight smile and correct any orthodontic issues that may prevent teeth from remaining straight. While orthodontics does focus on straightening patients’ teeth, this is not the only purpose of receiving orthodontic care. Whenever a patient has malocclusion, or bad bite, caused by crowded or crooked teeth, daily oral hygiene can become a difficult task. Malocclusion can also stem from teeth that are out of alignment, or jaws that do not meet properly. Thumb sucking or accidents to the teeth can also cause malocclusion. As oral hygiene becomes more difficult to maintain, the likelihood of dental complications, such as tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tooth loss, increases. An improper bite that goes unaddressed can negatively affect chewing and speaking, and wear down tooth enamel. Correcting these problems is of utmost importance to your orthodontist as they seek to give you the best care possible. Orthodontic care that helps straighten teeth can decrease and ultimately eliminate the chances of any of these complications from arising. With straight teeth, patients can better brush and floss their teeth, which will help strengthen them, while easily monitoring any changes that may occur.

 

What To Expect With Orthodontics

As you begin your orthodontic treatment, there are a few tips that you should know to prepare yourself for what will be expected of you during your time with braces. Although there are some challenges with straightening adult teeth versus children’s teeth due to the pliability of the jawbone, modern technology allows any adult of any age the opportunity to correct crooked teeth with remarkable success. You will first meet with an orthodontist for an evaluation and orthodontics consultation to determine what option is best for your mouth. Any oral health issues, such as gum disease, will have to be resolved before you can begin treatment. Adults have a variety of options to choose from for their orthodontic care, with many discreet options, such as ceramic or clear braces, lingual braces, and Invisalign clear removable retainers, that are available for your needs.

 

For children, treatment is similar to that of adults and can start as early as the age of 7. Having an orthodontic examination early on can prevent the progression of orthodontic issues that are present and allow the orthodontist to monitor the development/eruption of teeth. Aesthetically-minded treatment options, such as incognito lingual braces, are available for young children who may be self-conscious about their orthodontic care. Most children and adults can expect treatment for 1-3 years, followed by a period of time in which a retainer will be used to keep teeth in their newly aligned positions. Regular dental and orthodontic visits will be necessary to track the progress of teeth and manage any plaque or tartar buildup that could accrue between teeth.

 

How To Keep Your Straight Teeth HealthyFather and son brushing teeth in bathroom

Once you or your child finishes orthodontic treatment, it is important to continue certain oral health standards to maintain the health of your gums and teeth. Eating a healthy diet, with or without braces, while limiting the amount of sugary foods you consume, will prevent plaque that can stain or damage your teeth. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing each day will also prevent any plaque buildup, prevent cavities, and keep your teeth clean. Good oral hygiene is especially important for patients wearing braces because you are more susceptible to plaque buildup around brackets and underneath wires. For additional protection, consider using a mouth guard while playing any sports or activities that could damage your mouth, if hit. Creating a good oral health regimen before you start orthodontic treatment will help you have a healthy mouth during and once braces are removed.

 

For more information on the importance of straight teeth on oral health and what you can do to get the straight teeth that you want, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! If you’re ready to change your smile for the better, our team is ready to help you reach that goal for you and the rest of your family!

Picture of smiling female adolescent with braces

As orthodontic technology has improved throughout the years, so have the different appliances that are used to treat children with braces. Depending on their jaw and bone structure, your child may need an orthodontic device to help guide their teeth and jaw into proper alignment. These orthodontic appliances are used to maintain space in the mouth and allow for proper tooth eruption and movement. Find out what types of appliances are available and which is best for your child’s needs through these tips!

 

Benefits of Child Orthodontics

Many, if not most, dental patients will receive some form of orthodontic treatment during their lifetime. Even if one’s teeth doesn’t show any kind of orthodontic issues, it is advantageous that patients, especially children, visit with an orthodontist to maintain good oral health. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontic visit between the ages of 7 and 8 to prevent the progression of any orthodontic issues that may already be developing. Orthodontic treatment can lead to healthy, beautiful smiles at any age, but is most beneficial when completed at an earlier age. Some benefits of visiting the orthodontist early on include observing the progress of incoming teeth, reducing the risk of impacted teeth, and monitoring facial and jaw development. Early orthodontic evaluations can discover hidden dental issues and decrease the risk for permanent teeth extractions, as well. Early detection of any dental issue is vital in maintaining good oral health for patients of all ages, and should be a goal that all children should obtain from an early age.

 

Types of AppliancesView of child's mouth palate with an orthodontic appliance

Whenever patients think of “orthodontia,” they typically think of braces. For young patients, braces are common orthodontic appliances that they can receive to straighten their teeth and correct any dental issues. Child orthodontics includes other appliances than just braces, though, and these appliances fulfill an important function in your child’s overall treatment. Orthodontic appliances change the way your child’s mouth works by correcting certain bone problems. Headgear, for example, guides the jaw into the proper direction by holding the upper jaw until the lower jaw can catch up with it. Retainers are other useful tools that keep teeth in the correct position after braces are removed, and most children will use some type of retainer during or after their treatment.

 

There are other orthodontic appliances that aren’t as well known but are used quite often in child orthodontics. The Nance “Button” is one of those appliances that uses a holding arch to maintain space in the mouth for children who have lost their baby teeth and are waiting for permanent teeth to grow in. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, the first molars might move forward into an incorrect position as they erupt because there is nothing holding them back. The Nance is an acrylic plate (the button) that covers a section of the palate with two metal bands around the back teeth to hold them into position until permanent teeth develop. This process helps maintain the proper space for permanent teeth to grow into. Another less-known appliance is the lower lingual holding arch, which does the same thing as the Nance but for the lower teeth. Two metal bands are cemented to the lower molars, joined by a U-shaped bar that rests behind the lower teeth. This keeps the back teeth from moving forward and maintains the space needed for future permanent teeth to erupt. Lastly, twin blocks are used to correct misalignments in the jaw that cause your child’s top teeth to stick out in front of the lower teeth further than normal. The blocks consist of two plates, one on the upper teeth and the other on the lower. These work together to bring your child’s lower jaw forward into the correct position, but is most successful when inserted while your child’s bones are still growing. They are the fastest-working appliances, and create quick results. Any of these appliances can be used in your child’s orthodontic treatment, so if you have questions about how they function or which one would be best to implement, make sure to ask your orthodontist.

 

What To Expect At The First Appointment

Most adult teeth erupt between the ages of 6 and 12, so whenever your child’s first permanent molars begin developing, the dentist will need to evaluate them to see how they work together. This process is called a “bite check,” and it helps orthodontists determine in what stage your child’s teeth are and what their treatment will require. The dentist will then decide which type of appliance would work best for your child and what instructions they will need to follow to get the best results out of their treatment. When using an orthodontic appliance, good oral hygiene will be necessary to prevent plaque buildup and other dental complications that could extend your child’s treatment time. Having your child brush and floss their teeth every day, along with cleaning whichever orthodontic appliance they’re given, will ensure that they get the healthiest and fastest treatment possible.

 

If your child is due for an orthodontic visit, or if they’re experiencing any of the orthodontic issues that we’ve discussed, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for a consultation to improve their oral health. Our dedicated team is ready to help you create a plan for your child to get them the smile that they deserve!

Closeup of crowded teeth in dental patient's mouth

Upper jaw expansion is an orthodontic treatment that creates more space growth for developing kids by widening the circumference of the palate. This procedure helps correct crossbites, reduces overcrowding, and improves breathing ability. Most adolescents will receive this treatment before 16 years of age, but adults can also expand their upper jaw, if needed, as well. Read on to find out how upper jaw expansion works and what the advantages are with these tips!

 

Jaw Positioning and Malocclusion

Many patients deal with malocclusion, or crooked teeth and a poor bite. A poor bite refers to the way the upper and lower teeth line up, which is affected by the structure of the jaw. A “normal bite” consists of the upper teeth sitting slightly forward of the lower teeth, which allows for proper movement. Malocclusion is normally a cosmetic problem, but when it interferes with how teeth erupt, it can cause crooked teeth and tooth decay. A common cause of malocclusion is having too much or too little room in the jaw, which affects whether teeth grow in crowded or crooked. The shape and size of the jaw can also affect how severe someone’s malocclusion is, but thumb-sucking and tooth loss can also influence this process. For many patients, especially children, malocclusion is caused by a limited amount of space in the mouth for teeth to grow, so they either grow in crooked or the bite is altered. For this reason, many young dental patients receive upper jaw expansion treatments to allow more room in the mouth and prevent malocclusion. As more study and insight has been gained on the structure of the mouth, there are now more possibilities to fix incorrect bites, adjust occlusion and prevent crooked teeth starting from an earlier age.

 

Reasons For Upper Jaw Expansion

Upper jaw expansion is a specific treatment for widening the circumference of the palate to increase the perimeter of the dental arch in the mouth, which creates more space for teeth to grow. When there is enough room for teeth to grow, they are more likely to develop correctly. During childhood, palatal or maxillary expanders are used to aid this process. Through these expanders, dentists can help correct a crossbite that is caused by malocclusion. Normally, the upper teeth should close around the outside of the lower teeth, but when someone has a narrow palate, the opposite can occur and create a crossbite. As the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, an asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw can develop and change the symmetry of one’s face. This can cause serious complications if not addressed early on. Lastly, upper jaw expansion methods improve breathing ability, which is greatly affected by a narrow jaw. A narrow or deep upper jaw can make it difficult for a child to breathe through their nose and results in constant mouth breathing. While it doesn’t sound very serious, consistent mouth breathing keeps the mouth open at night, allowing for unfiltered bacteria to enter into the oral cavity, causing dry mouth and halitosis (bad breath).

 

Treatment OptionsPatient with dental expander in mouth being treated by dentist

Upper jaw expansion is most successful when done at an earlier age while the mouth is still developing. For adults, those with a crossbite may only need a dental expansion instead of a palatal expansion, but may need surgery if palatal expansion is required to fix concerns. Depending on the age of the patient and the reason for treatment, a rapid palatal expander (RPE) may be used to increase the width of the jaw. The RPE is attached to the upper molars by bonding or cemented bands, and uses a special key that is used to widen the space by turning a screw in the appliance at certain points in time. This process puts extra pressure on the two halves of the upper jaw, which causes extra bone to grow between them. Gradually, by turning the screw with the key each day, the jaw widens to make room available for developing teeth. For adults, removable expanders can be used, as well, whenever the degree of expansion is minimal. Resembling a partial denture, removable expanders are typically made of chrome and recommended for adults as they more easily comply with treatment. After treatment, an orthodontic retainer may be given to maintain the space until all permanent teeth have developed. A third but least common option for expansion is a surgically assisted rapid palatal expander (SARPE), which is a combination of orthodontic treatment and surgery. This is used in the case that expansion cannot be achieved by the appliance alone. A custom appliance is made before surgery, and while during surgery, the upper jaw is intentionally fractured to separate it into movable sections. This allows the bone to grow between the fractures after the appliance is inserted.

 

Pros and Cons

Palatal expanders help straighten teeth, improve breathing and fix incorrect bites, but there are important suggestions to make note of. Since children are most likely to have one, a palatal expander, just like any orthodontic appliance, needs to be thoroughly cleaned each day to prevent plaque buildup and decay around the teeth. For young children, this can be difficult to do without help and can be easily overlooked, so parental supervision is essential. Additionally, the entire process can cost up to $3,000, depending on the degree of correction. For many, there is also some minor discomfort during expansion, but it is well worth it when you’re avoiding an inaccurate bite later in life.

 

For more information on which treatment option is best to fix yours or your child’s palate, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our experienced team is dedicated to improving your oral health and getting you the smile that you deserve!

 

Diastema: What Is It?

Posted on: March 15, 2019

Young woman holding magnifying glass over mouth to show gap between teeth

A gap between the teeth, called “diastema,” are common among many dental patients and can be found between any teeth in the mouth, but usually between the two upper front teeth. Why do these spaces develop, and what are the differences between a diastema in children versus adults? Diastemata develop through a variety of reasons, such as misaligned jaw bones, missing teeth, and thumb-sucking. Not all spaces can be prevented, but many can be adjusted through orthodontic treatment. If you have a diastema that you would like to have treated, learn what your treatment options are through this guide!

 

Changes in Orthodontic Care

Orthodontic treatment options have been revolutionized through modern technology and dental science. Poorly aligned teeth have been a nuisance for dental patients for hundreds of years, and orthodontic work was even performed on willing subjects dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Romans. From crude metal bands to catgut, archaeologists have discovered that even ancient societies performed orthodontic care on patients in an effort to straighten teeth. For those suffering from malocclusion, or misalignment, a common practice for moving emerging teeth into their correct position was by regularly pushing them with the fingers, a practice that has long been outdated since the invention of custom-fit metal appliances in the 18th century. Eventually, orthodontics treatment evolved into the process that we see today: brackets being cemented to each individual tooth with a metal wire attached to cinch the teeth together. Options for invisible treatments, such as lingual braces or even Invisalign, further allow patients to choose how they straighten their teeth. While there are so many options to choose from to decide how to straighten our teeth, how our teeth first develop and erupt in our mouth is a separate process. Since every patient is different and will experience a variety of dental issues, some patients may face something called “diastema,” which can have certain dental complications and be caused by a variety of reasons. Understanding how diastemata form and what you can do to fix them can give you the freedom to be in control of your oral health and appearance.

 

Gaps Between Teeth

Many people across the world are born with a diastema, or a gap between their teeth. These spaces can form anywhere in the mouth, but are most commonly found between the two upper front teeth. Both children and adults can have a diastema, and many times a child’s diastema will disappear once their permanent teeth grow in. While some gaps are relatively small and barely noticeable, others can be quite large and can cause cosmetic issues for some patients. While relatively harmless, most patients who fix their diastema do it for aesthetic reasons.

 

There are a variety of reasons why a diastema develops. A mismatch between the size of the jawbone and the size of teeth that develops can cause gaps to appear, or even too small of teeth (or a missing tooth) can create spaces, as well. Sometimes a diastema can be caused by an oversized labial frenum. This part of the mouth is a piece of tissue that extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your upper front teeth. Occasionally, this will grow too much and pass between the two front teeth, causing a gap. Bad habits, such as thumb sucking, can also lead to gaps between the teeth as the movement of the thumb tends to push teeth forward, creating a gap. A diastema can also develop due to incorrect swallowing reflexes. Normally, the tongue will push against the roof of the mouth when swallowing, but some people’s tongues may push against the teeth, which causes separation. This is called a tongue thrust. Lastly, gaps can form from periodontal disease in which inflammation damages the gums and teeth, which can cause teeth to loosen and fall out, or decay.

 

Treatment Options

A diastema can result from a mixture of orthodontic problems, or it can develop on its own. Many people who fix the gap in their teeth do it for appearance, but for those patients who have missing teeth, they might need to have a dental implant or bridge inserted. More often than not, braces are needed to close the gap between teeth, no matter where the gap is located. Fixing a diastema affects the entire mouth structure, so braces will be installed on both the top and lower teeth for proper alignment. If your diastema is due to an oversized labial frenum, a frenectomy will be performed to help the gap close on its own. If there is any sign of gum disease, periodontal treatment will be needed first to restore gum health before any braces will be put on.

 

Keeping The Gap ClosedHand holding a clear retainer

Spaces will tend to stay closed when done through orthodontic or dental repair. To prevent any gaps from developing in the future, make sure to wear your retainer that you will receive after treatment and use it according to your orthodontist’s instructions. For extra protection, your orthodontist might also splint (attach) the backs of the teeth to other teeth with composite and a wire to prevent them from moving. If you notice a space between your teeth or in your child’s mouth, contact your dentist for an evaluation to determine what kind of orthodontic treatment you might need. For more information on how to fix a diastema and improve your oral health, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 to start improving your smile today!

 

Surgical Orthodontics

Posted on: March 1, 2019

Side view of a woman's mouth smiling with braces on

Surgical orthodontics is sometimes needed for those patients whose upper and lower jaws don’t align correctly and a proper bite cannot be achieved. Surgical orthodontics will change the alignment of your jaw, which will affect your teeth. Braces are normally involved in this process to correct teeth movement. Since this is a surgical process, there are many different options for patients to choose from to fix misaligned jaws. Find out whether you’re eligible for surgical orthodontics and what it can do to fix your smile!

 

What Surgical Orthodontics Entails

In some cases, surgical orthodontics is recommended for patients whose upper or lower jaws do not line up properly and thus cannot obtain a correct bite with orthodontics alone. Known also as jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery, this process involves correcting irregularities of the jaw bone and realigns the jaw and teeth to function together properly. Surgical orthodontics also can be used to fix aesthetic concerns about a patient’s profile or jaw shape/size. Since this type of orthodontic work involves correcting the alignment of your jaw, your teeth will most likely shift, as well, so braces are used in combination with this treatment.

 

Those patients who suffer from problems with their chewing, breathing, or speaking due to a misaligned jaw are prime candidates for surgical orthodontics. As mentioned earlier as well, patients who have aesthetic facial concerns can also benefit from these treatments to see what improvements can be made, after consulting with their orthodontist. The downside to treatment is that it cannot be performed until a patient’s jaw is fully formed, so for children and children who struggle with any of the aforementioned issues, they must wait to fully develop before any surgery can be performed. For males, jaw growth typically finishes at age 18, and for females it is completed earlier, at around 16 years of age.

 

What To Expect During SurgeryClose up view of a patient in dental surgery

Surgical orthodontics include both pre and post-surgical phases in which treatment is tailored to the individual patient’s needs and jaw structure. Pre-surgery involves aligning your teeth and moving them into a more ideal position before surgery. In many cases, braces are put on 12-18 months prior to surgery to level and align your teeth in preparation for surgery. Orthodontic surgery on your upper jaw can shift it backward, forward, upward, and downward, while surgery on the lower jaw shifts the jawbone either forward or backward. Surgery is performed by an oral surgeon on the inside of the mouth, so there are no facial scars on the mouth, chin, or other surrounding areas. The surgeon makes cuts in the jawbone, which are then moved into the correct position. Tiny bone plates, screws, wires and rubber bands are used to hold the newly aligned jawbone into their new position. While smaller than the bracket that is fixed onto a tooth with braces, these screws eventually become integrated into the bone over time. In some cases, extra bone may be added to the jaw from your hip, leg, or rib, and secured with screws and plates. During your consult with your orthodontist, you will both discuss the pre and post-surgical treatments that you will be receiving, dependent upon your needs.

 

Post-Surgery Care

After surgery, the oral surgeon will provide you with certain instructions to help in the healing process, such as:

 

  • What you can eat
  • Oral hygiene
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Avoiding strenuous activity
  • Medications to control pain
  • Timeline to return to work/school

 

Typically, you will need to wait at least two weeks after surgery to resume your normal activities. Initial jaw healing occurs at around six weeks, but complete healing can take up to twelve weeks. After the one month post-operation check up, most patients will be in braces for 6-12 months after surgery, in which the orthodontist will then check the progress of your smile and alignment of the jaw. The entire process, including surgery and your time with braces, can last several years, depending on the severity of the issue and what adjustments are needed.

 

The results of surgical orthodontics are varied and can lead to a balanced appearance of your lower face, improved function of your teeth, health benefits from improved sleeping, eating, and chewing, and improvement in speech impediments. Secondary benefits include improved self-esteem and appearance for those who seek out surgical orthodontics for aesthetic purposes.

 

Preventing Surgical Orthodontics

It is recommended that children visit an orthodontist between the ages of 7 to 8 for the main purpose of preventing invasive or drastic treatments later on in life. If a jaw abnormality is discovered earlier on in a child’s life, it can be evaluated and treated sooner without surgery having to be involved. If you or your child are suffering from troubled chewing, eating, breathing, or swallowing, or if you have a misaligned jaw, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for an evaluation. Our trained staff can help prepare you as you make this important step in your oral health and guide you to a healthier smile.

Temporary Anchorage Devices: What Are They?

Posted on: February 8, 2019

Picture of young adult wearing braces and smiling

Whenever our teeth need an extra push to shift them into a straighter position, orthodontists will typically install a temporary anchorage device, commonly known as a “TAD.” Although they’re not used in every case, they help pull, push, and lift difficult to adjust teeth into the correct position. If your orthodontist recommends that you have a TAD, read through this guide to understand how they function and what you can do to maintain them!

 

Origins of Orthodontia

Poorly aligned jaws and teeth have been a nuisance to mankind since the beginning of time, so it’s no surprise that orthodontics has been around for so long. Archaeologists have found human remains with crooked teeth dating back 50,000 years; interestingly enough, the remains of some ancient civilizations, like Egypt, have been found with crude metal bands around their teeth, a form of orthodontics very similar to braces that we see nowadays. The ancient Greek, the Etruscans, and the Romans also practiced orthodontia and kept records of their discoveries. The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, was the first to describe teeth irregularities around 400 BC, and centuries later, Celcus would advise bringing newly emerging teeth into their proper position by pushing them with your fingers.

 

By the 1700 and 1800s, orthodontics was developing rapidly. Pierre Fauchard, the “Father of Dentistry,” would create the bandeau that allowed teeth to align correctly by using a strip of metal with regularly spaced holes that fit around the teeth. During the 20th century, Edward Hartley Angle would identify the true properties of a malocclusion, or misalignment, and begin addressing them with an effective set of orthodontic appliances that were developed much earlier. By the 1970s, braces would further advance through the invention of dental adhesives that would allow orthodontists to stick brackets to teeth surfaces rather than wiring them around each tooth. Stainless steel replaced gold and silver that were previously used as the wire, which helped reduce the cost of braces significantly. Even with the impressive advances that we have made since the beginning of orthodontics, patients around the world still suffer from advanced teeth and jaw malocclusion that normal braces can’t resolve on their own. For the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of braces, other orthodontic devices have been invented to facilitate this process.

 

Orthodontic DevicesOrthodontic model of orthodontic devices used in the mouth

Whenever we think of “orthodontics,” we innately assume braces. Braces have two basic parts: brackets and wires. Wires move the teeth and brackets serve as a stationary holder for the wires. Contemporary braces can be stainless steel, gold-colored, or tooth-colored ceramic. Most braces go on the front of the teeth, but there are some, called lingual braces, that are fastened onto the backs of teeth that are virtually invisible. Lingual braces are not the same as clear aligners, which is another orthodontic device. Clear aligners are made of a transparent plastic-like material and are considered “invisible braces.” They are made to fit the patient’s teeth at different stages of treatment. Each set of aligners is worn for 1-3 weeks for at least 22 hours a day, and are designed to move the teeth incrementally until the next set is used. While these types of braces are a very common sight to see in many homes, schools, and workplaces, they aren’t the only devices used to move teeth and align jaws. Power chains are sometimes used with braces for an added push. They are stronger than the traditional elastic rings and can apply an extra force when needed. The last orthodontic device that is commonly used, although many patients don’t know what their purpose is, is a temporary anchorage device, or TAD.

 

TADs

Temporary anchorage devices, most commonly known as TADs, are used in some orthodontic cases to help shift the teeth into a straighter position when traditional braces can’t do it on their own. For this reason, not everyone needs them. TADS use titanium mini-screws (sometimes called mini-implants or micro-implants) that provide a fixed object that can be used to push, pull, lift, or intrude teeth that are being straightened. TADS don’t move and can be placed in many different parts of the mouth, so they are highly efficient at moving difficult teeth back into proper alignment. Before TADs are ever inserted into your mouth, though, your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and determine whether your malocclusion is severe enough to receive a TAD. Before insertion, your gum tissue and jaw area will be numbed so that the procedure will be nearly painless. The TAD is then placed into your jawbone, and will eventually be removed once your orthodontist feels that it is no longer needed for straightening your teeth.

 

Just like braces, it may take a couple of days for the discomfort to subside and your mouth to get used to the TAD. Try taking an over-the-counter pain relief medication to alleviate any excessive discomfort. An important part of maintaining your TAD is continuing your oral hygiene regimen. Continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day and use mouthwash with antimicrobial ingredients. As long as your gums are healthy throughout the duration of your treatment, you shouldn’t have any complications with your TAD.

 

Get Straighter Teeth Today

To learn more about TADS, or to schedule an appointment to begin your treatment plan for braces, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! At Belmar Orthodontics, we have a highly skilled and experienced team that is happy to help you start your journey to a healthier and happier smile.