Why is sugar bad for your teeth?

Why is sugar bad for your teeth?

Why is sugar bad for your teeth?We’ve all been taught that sugar is bad for our teeth, but very few people know why sugar is bad for your teeth. We will explain in simple terms why sugar causes cavities and tooth decay.

Your mouth is full bacteria, some good and some bad. Two of the bad guys are Streptococcus Mutans and Streptococcus Sobrinus. These strains of bacteria feed on sugar. When these bacteria digest the sugar left on your teeth after drinking a Coke or eating a cookie they produce an acid that slowly eats away at your tooth enamel.

Enamel is the shiny outer layer of your teeth that protects them. This acid, over time, slowly demineralizes the enamel on your teeth, stripping it of its protective minerals.

The good news is that your mouth isn’t defenseless against this acid. Your saliva contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate that work to reverse this demineralization process, by slowly remineralizing your tooth enamel. The problem is that the sugar content of our diets is increasing and our teeth are under almost constant attack. Simply put, our saliva simply can’t keep up. This is why dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice per day and preferably after eating a sugary snack or drinking a soft drink. By brushing your teeth, you remove some of the sugar residues which in turn leaves less food for the bad bacteria to turn into damaging acid.

What is a bite adjustment?

what is a bite adjustment procedureA bite adjustment, or occlusal adjustment, may sound like a significant procedure, but it can be quite simple, quick, and painless in most cases.

A bite adjustment is sometimes required after you have your braces removed to correct minor interferences that prevent your teeth from coming together properly. Sometimes your teeth may not be the same height, causing one or two teeth to make contact before the rest of your teeth when you bite. This is an issue because it puts added pressure on those teeth, which can cause pain, hyper-sensitivity, tenderness around the root of the tooth, and even headaches.

What to expect during a bite adjustment?

A bite adjustment procedure is usually a quick and painless in-office procedure. Your dentist will ask you to bite down on a piece of special paper called Articulating Paper. When you bite down on this paper and move your teeth, it leaves colored marks on your teeth where they come together. This allows the dentist to see where your teeth are making contact, then the dentist can gently file those areas to reduce the pressure. Your dentist will likely file a small amount, then ask you to bite down on the paper again, repeating this process until your bite is more in line.

Signs you may need a bite adjustment:

When your braces are removed, you will have a beautiful new smile. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, contact your orthodontist immediately so they can evaluate your teeth and see if a bite adjustment is needed.

• Chronic headaches

• Worn or broken teeth (not caused by trauma)

• Pain in your jaw joints, head, or neck muscles

• Popping of your jaw

• Sensitivity in your teeth

For more information about our orthodontic treatment options, contact our office.

What can happen if you don’t brush as directed with braces?

What can happen if you don't brush as directed with braces?So you have decided to get braces, CONGRATS! Your new smile will be ready before you know it, that is, if you take care of your teeth while you have your braces on. We all know that we should brush our teeth twice a day and floss regularly, but did you know that having braces requires some additional maintenance?

Plaque and Germs

Traditional braces add to the amount of surface area in your mouth which means there is more space for tooth decaying, acid-producing bacteria and plaque to stick to. Food particles can get stuck between the wire and your teeth, so not only do you need to brush your teeth in the morning and before bed, but you also need to make sure that your braces stay clean throughout the day. Your orthodontist can recommend additional tools and special flossers designed to help you clean around your braces to help you keep the germs at bay. In addition, having food stuck in your braces, especially in the hard to reach or see places toward the back of your mouth, can cause bad breath as well as tooth decay, so carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you everywhere so you can brush after every meal.

Gum Disease

Inflamed gums are another potential complication from improper oral hygiene with braces. Due to the increased risk of bacteria build-up, your gums could become inflamed as a result of that bacteria. This can lead to the beginning stages of gum disease called gingivitis, so don’t forget that toothbrush!

Discoloration

The longer food and bacteria stay on your teeth, the more discolored your teeth may become. Dark-colored sodas, coffee, tea, and red wine can all stain your teeth over time. Braces are affixed to your teeth with brackets that are glued to the sides of your teeth. The bracket covers a small area of each tooth, essentially protecting it from the discoloring effect of these drinks. If you do not brush after drinking dark-colored liquids, when you get your braces removed, it is not uncommon to have the small areas where the brackets were to be a different color than the rest of your teeth. Most of the time this can be corrected with tooth whitening treatments, but that is an additional expense that can potentially be avoided or minimized with regular brushing.

You have made an investment in your smile, protect that investment by taking care of your braces and your teeth with proper oral hygiene habits.

How much do braces cost?

how much do braces costPerhaps the biggest question most patients or their parents have is how much do braces cost. In some cases, private insurance may cover part of it, but in most cases, private insurance will not. Cost is a large factor to consider when deciding if braces are right for you or your child. So how much do braces cost? It depends on several factors.

How much work the patient needs.

The more severe a patents case is, the more orthodontic work will be required, thus costs may increase. The severity of the case will determine how frequently they will need to visit the orthodontist and over how long a time period.  In more severe cases, headgear or other additional treatments may be required.

What type of braces the patient wants or needs.

Invisalign is a relatively new method of straightening teeth, however, it isn’t right for everyone. (Read more about that here). Traditional metal braces have been around for decades and in general, can be a little less expensive. According to CostHelper.com, the average cost of metal braces in the U.S. is $4,937 without dental insurance and $3,407 with dental insurance.  Align Technology, the medical device company that makes Invisalign braces, estimates treatment costs range from $3,500 to $8,000, or an average of $5,600 nationally without insurance.

Financing Options

Most orthodontists offer to finance, whether through a third-party medical credit service or directly with monthly payments. Although financing can include additional fees or interest charges, they provide a way to spread the cost of braces over a year or more, making braces much more affordable for most patients. A good orthodontist will explain all your options during your consultation so that you can make the right decision for your situation.

Although cost is a very important factor in determining whether braces are right for you or your child, remember that you are investing in a lifetime of self-confidence.  Financing can help spread the cost over time so make an appointment with Dr. Jay Waguespack at one of his three office locations to find out more.

Common Issues Due to Early or Late Baby Tooth Loss

Common Issues Due to Early or Late Baby Tooth LossLosing that first tooth is a milestone in every child’s life; however, did you know that when and how a child loses their baby teeth can affect their orthodontic needs later on?

Losing baby teeth too soon, too late or in the wrong order can cause the new adult teeth to come in in the wrong position. The severity of this misalignment will determine the extent to which they will need orthodontic treatment in their teens.

One of the most common issues caused by losing baby teeth too early is crowding. Baby teeth preserve space for adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, that space can be lost and cause the adult teeth to come in crooked. Alternatively, if baby teeth are lost too late, the underlying adult teeth can become crowded, and may not be able to push out the baby teeth. It’s important to note that pulling baby teeth may not correct this kind of crowding.

Another issue that can arise when baby teeth are lost late is that the adult teeth can erupt before the baby teeth are gone. This results in two rows of teeth. In most cases this corrects itself over time; however, it is important to take your child to the dentist every 6 months so your dentist can monitor your child’s progress.

Late tooth loss could be a sign of a missing adult tooth. Baby teeth need adult teeth to push them out. If an adult tooth is missing there is nothing to loosen the baby tooth and start the process. Congenital missing teeth affects 1% of the population. If you are worried that your child may be missing an adult tooth, contact your dentist for an x-ray. If your child has a missing adult tooth your dentist may recommend preserving the baby tooth, replace the missing tooth with an implant or depending on where the missing tooth is and how noticeable it is, close the space with braces.

It is important to remember that every child is different and will lose their baby teeth at their own pace. Most cases resolve themselves over time; however, if you are concerned about your child’s teeth visit your dentist. They can take x-rays, examine your child’s teeth, diagnose if there is an issue, and develop a treatment plan if necessary.

Is Invisalign Right for Me?

is invisalign right for meInvisalign is a relatively new advancement in orthodontics that can help patients straighten their teeth without visible metal braces. While this may sound like the best thing since sliced bread, it isn’t always right for every patient.

While Invisalign is a great option for most people, there are some cases where Invisalign is not the best course of treatment. For those in need of severe orthodontic treatment, such as to fix a large overbite, more advanced orthodontic treatment may be necessary. However, if your case is relatively mild, Invisalign has been shown to help correct overbites, underbites, crossbites, gapped teeth, and crowded teeth.

Another factor to consider before choosing Invisalign, or similar treatments, is age. While Invisalign is ok to use in older teenagers and adults, it is not recommended for children and younger teenagers. This is mainly due to the fact that their teeth and mouth are still growing.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider before choosing Invisalign is how dedicated you are to following the rules. Invisalign’s main draw for most people is, that aside from being clear and relatively unnoticeable, Invisalign braces can be removed. This is great if you have a special event to attend, a company dinner or social gathering, however remembering to put them back in and to wear them for the prescribed length of time per day is vital to success. As with traditional metal braces, once your treatment plan is complete, you will need to wear a retainer regularly to prevent your teeth shifting back to their original positions.

If you are unsure if you are a candidate for Invisalign braces, a good place to start is to take Invisalign’s short online smile assessment.  If the online assessment says that you may be a candidate, contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay for a thorough evaluation of your case.

Why is thumb sucking harmful for teeth?

Most children suck their thumbs at some point in their life.  While most grow out of the habit around 6 or 7 months of age, most stop on their own before they start preschool. However, a small percentage of children continue sucking their thumbs beyond age four.

For infants, thumb or finger sucking is perfectly normal.  Infants have a natural sucking reflex which can be observed in the womb. This sucking reflex not only helps your infant eat, but it also provides a level of comfort and can help your child feel secure.

why is thumb sucking harmful to teethThe American Dental Association recommends that children stop sucking their thumbs by age four to prevent any long term negative effects to their oral development. Aside from the potential for teasing from classmates and the risk of illness from putting dirty thumbs into their mouths, the dangers of thumb sucking can have long-lasting negative consequences for their dental health. Children who suck their thumbs past the age of four risks affecting the correct development of their mouth and jaw.  This damage can change the future placement of permanent teeth, which can require extensive orthodontic treatment to correct when they are older.

One of the most common consequences of extended thumb sucking is an open bite. An open bite is where the front teeth do not come together. The technical term for this condition is a malocclusion. Malocclusion is when misaligned teeth are visible when the mouth is closed, which is often due to the top and bottom front teeth protruding forward.

Another common complication of thumb sucking is an overbite. Similar to malocclusion, overbite is when the front teeth protrude forward. An overbite is different from an open bite in that an overbite is limited to the top front teeth.

Children who suck their thumbs are also at risk for skin issues. When exposed to moisture from the mouth, skin on the thumbs can become vulnerable to injury and infection. The pressure from sucking on the thumb can cause the thumbnail to become warped, cause ingrowing of the nail or peeling.

Some children who suck their thumbs can also experience speech issues. Thumb sucking can alter the formation of the jaw, palate, and teeth, which can lead to lisping and other speech impediments.

To minimize these issues, the ADA recommends a few tactics to parents to help your child stop sucking their thumb:

•             Praise a child for not sucking, instead of reprimanding for doing it.

•             Because sucking can result from feeling insecure, address the “cause of the anxiety and comfort the child.”

•             Provide rewards when a child avoids sucking.

•             Ask a dentist to help during a regular checkup or special visit by encouraging the child and explaining what may happen to the teeth if the child’s habit continues.

If you have any concerns about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, take them to see a dentist sooner rather than later. Taking infants and young children to the dentist for regular dental check-ups can help get them used to going to the dentist and prevent any anxiety as well as identify any concerns early.