Posts for: April, 2016
Fans of the primetime TV show The Middle were delighted to see that high school senior Sue, played by Eden Sher, finally got her braces off at the start of Season 6. But since this popular sitcom wouldn’t be complete without some slapstick comedy, this happy event is not without its trials and tribulations: The episode ends with Sue’s whole family diving into a dumpster in search of the teen’s lost retainer. Sue finds it in the garbage and immediately pops it in her mouth. But wait — it doesn’t fit, it’s not even hers!
If you think this scenario is far-fetched, guess again. OK, maybe the part about Sue not washing the retainer upon reclaiming it was just a gag (literally and figuratively), but lost retainers are all too common. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to replace — so they need to be handled with care. What’s the best way to do that? Retainers should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap (dish soap works well), and then placed immediately back in your mouth or into the case that came with the retainer. When you are eating a meal at a restaurant, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin and leave it on the table — this is a great way to lose it! Instead, take the case with you, and keep the retainer in it while you’re eating. When you get home, brush your teeth and then put the retainer back in your mouth.
If you do lose your retainer though, let us know right away. Retention is the last step of your orthodontic treatment, and it’s extremely important. You’ve worked hard to get a beautiful smile, and no one wants to see that effort wasted. Yet if you neglect to wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth are likely to shift out of position. Why does this happen?
As you’ve seen firsthand, teeth aren’t rigidly fixed in the jaw — they can be moved in response to light and continuous force. That’s what orthodontic appliances do: apply the right amount of force in a carefully controlled manner. But there are other forces at work on your teeth that can move them in less predictable ways. For example, normal biting and chewing can, over time, cause your teeth to shift position. To get teeth to stay where they’ve been moved orthodontically, new bone needs to form around them and anchor them where they are. That will happen over time, but only if they are held in place with a retainer. That’s why it is so important to wear yours as directed — and notify us immediately if it gets lost.
And if ever you do have to dig your retainer out of a dumpster… be sure to wash it before putting in in your mouth!
If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Why Orthodontic Retainers?”
What dental crowns can do for your smile
Your teeth take a beating from the wear and tear of everyday life. The normal aging process also works to diminish your smile. Your teeth can become dull, broken and unsightly. Having broken, weak teeth can keep you from eating the foods you love. It’s time to get your strong, youthful smile back again with dental crowns. Dr. Kunio Chan at One Dental Care, in Billerica, Massachusetts, wants you to know how dental crowns can strengthen your damaged teeth and restore your smile.
Dr. Chan wants you to know dental crowns work to strengthen your teeth by providing a protective “armor” that covers the visible part of your teeth. This is the part most prone to breakage when you bite or chew. Dental crowns shield your teeth from the natural stresses of eating and overuse. They actually hold your teeth together. In contrast, large metal fillings can weaken your teeth by dividing them in half. When you bite down on a large metal filling, the filling may break off, taking a piece of your tooth with it.
Dr. Chan may need to use metal posts and a metal framework to support your crown if your tooth is badly damaged. This is called a build-up and ensures that your crown has a firm, supportive foundation, just like a house.
Several materials are available for your new crown, depending on the location in your mouth and what material or characteristics you prefer. Dr. Chan offers:
- Full gold crowns, which are the strongest, and typically reserved for back teeth where you need chewing strength.
- Porcelain fused to gold crowns, which have both strength and cosmetic beauty just like your natural teeth. These crowns can be placed in any area of your mouth.
- Full porcelain crowns, which are the most beautiful and most natural looking; they are the perfect choice for your front teeth and teeth that are visible when you smile.
Dental crowns can do a lot to improve your smile and strengthen your teeth. You owe it to yourself to be able to show a strong, beautiful smile to the world. Stop by and visit Dr. Kunio Chan, at One Dental Care in Billerica, Massachusetts. He can help you discover how dental crowns can strengthen your damaged teeth, so call today!
Waiting is part of life for a teenager: waiting to get a driver’s license, to graduate high school or to leave home and stretch their wings. A teenager with lost teeth may also need to wait until they’re older to obtain dental implants.
The reason arises from the differences in how implants and natural teeth attach to the jaw. Although natural teeth may seem rigidly set in the bone, they’re actually held in place by an elastic tissue between them and the bone known as the periodontal ligament. Tiny filaments that attach to the teeth on one side and the bone on the other hold the teeth in place, but also allow the teeth to move gradually in response to mouth changes.
A titanium implant post doesn’t have this relationship with the periodontal ligament — it’s attached directly to the jaw bone. Over time the bone, which has a special affinity with titanium, grows and adheres to it to form a durable bond without an attachment to the periodontal ligament. Because of this the implant can’t move like a natural tooth.
This is extremely important for implant placement because the jaws in particular won’t fully develop in most people until their late teens or early twenties: the upper jaw in particular will tend to grow out and down. Natural teeth accommodate to these changes, but the implant can’t — it will appear to retreat into the jaw. The gum tissues surrounding the implant also won’t conform to the continuing growth and may appear receded.
The best approach is to choose a temporary replacement option until the jaws and other facial bone structures have finished growing. One example is a bonded bridge in which we use a bonding agent to attach a bridge of artificial teeth to teeth on either side of a missing tooth — bonding won’t permanently alter them as with a traditional bridge. Once the jaws have finished growing, we can remove the bonded bridge and install the more permanent implant.
Ask any teenager: waiting can be hard. But with dental implants, waiting until the right time will help ensure the attractive result is a permanent one.
If you would like more information on dental restorations and teenagers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teenagers & Dental Implants.”