Posts for: October, 2017
When you think orthodontics, you may instantly picture braces or clear aligners worn by teenagers or adults. But there’s more to orthodontics than correcting fully developed malocclusions (poor bites). It’s also possible to intervene and potentially reduce a malocclusion’s future severity and cost well beforehand.
Known as interceptive orthodontics, these treatments help guide jaw growth in children while mouth structures are still developing and more pliable. But timing is critical: waiting until late childhood or puberty could be too late.
For example, we can influence an upper jaw developing too narrowly (which can cause erupting teeth to crowd each other) with an expander appliance placed in the roof of the mouth. The expander exerts slight, outward pressure on the upper jaw bones. Because the bones haven’t yet fused as they will later, the pressure maintains a gap between them that fills with additional bone that eventually widens the jaw.
Functional appliances like the Herbst appliance influence muscle and bone development in the jaws to eventually reshape and reposition them. The Herbst appliance utilizes a set of metal hinges connected to the top and bottom jaws; when the patient opens and closes their jaws the hinges encourage the lower jaw to move (and eventually grow) forward. If successful, it could help a patient avoid more invasive treatments like tooth extraction or jaw surgery.
Some interceptive objectives are quite simple in comparison like preserving the space created by a prematurely lost primary tooth. If a child loses a primary tooth before the incoming permanent tooth is ready to erupt, the nearby teeth can drift into the empty space. Without enough room, the permanent tooth could erupt out of position. We can hold the space with a simple loop device known as a space maintainer: usually made of acrylic or metal, the device fits between adjacent teeth and prevents them from drifting into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.
Interceptive orthodontics can have a positive impact on your child’s jaw development, now and in the future. For these techniques to be effective, though, they must begin early, so be sure your child has a complete orthodontic evaluation beginning around age 7. You may be able to head off future bite problems before they happen.
As if the preteen years didn’t give kids and their parents enough to think about, new oral health concerns loom on the horizon. Along with major changes to the body, brain and emotions, additional risk factors for tooth decay and gum disease appear during adolescence — the period of development starting around age 10 and extending through the teen years that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Even with declining rates of tooth decay across the nation, the cavity rate remains high during adolescence. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in every 5 adolescents has untreated tooth decay. What’s more, the onset of puberty — usually beginning around age 10-11 in girls and 11-12 in boys — brings changes in hormone levels that can affect gum health.
We all have millions of microorganisms in our mouth, representing hundreds of different species of mostly helpful, but some harmful, bacteria. Research has shown that total oral bacteria increases between ages 11 and 14, and new types of bacteria are introduced, including some that are not friendly to teeth and gums. Some unfamiliar microbes trigger an exaggerated inflammatory response to dental plaque, so gum bleeding and sensitivity are experienced by many children in this age group. In fact, “puberty gingivitis,” which peaks around age 11-13, is the most common type of gum disease found during childhood.
A combination of hormones, lifestyle changes and poor oral hygiene habits raises the risk of oral health problems among adolescents. A more independent social life may be accompanied by a change in eating habits and easier access to snacks and beverages that are sugary, acidic (like sports drinks and soda) or full of refined carbohydrates — none of which are tooth-healthy choices. And as children move toward greater independence, parents are less likely to micromanage their children’s personal care, including their oral hygiene routines. Good oral hygiene can keep dental plaque at bay, lowering the chance of having gingivitis and cavities. But let’s face it: Adolescents have a lot to think about, and keeping up with their oral health may not be top of mind.
To help your preteen stay on top of their oral health, keep healthy snacks at home for your children and their friends and make sure you are well stocked with supplies such as new toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste. In addition, most preteens (and teens) can benefit from gentle reminders about oral hygiene routines.
For optimal oral health through all stages of life, make sure your preteen keeps up with professional teeth cleanings and exams, and talk with us about whether fluoride treatments or sealants may be appropriate for your child.
For more on your child’s oral health, read “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Dentistry & Oral Health For Children” in Dear Doctor magazine.
Tooth aches and other similar problems can be signs of serious oral health concerns, including the need for a root canal. So how do you know if you do need a root canal? There are specific signs you may need a root canal, such as tooth sensitivity. If you have any of the signs of needing a root canal, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible. A root canal can save a damaged tooth so you can avoid extraction. The dentists at Prestige Dental Network are your Meriden, Hartford and East Hartford, CT, dentists for root canals.
Root Canal Signs
When a tooth is severely compromised, a root canal might be the only way to save it. Teeth can become weakened due to extensive decay or as the result of an injury that caused nerves in the tooth to die. In either case, the soft pulpy substance inside the tooth can become infected, which can lead to the development of an abscess below the tooth root. An untreated abscess can result in the original infection spreading to other areas of the mouth or body, which can lead to additional health problems.
There are several signs you may need a root canal. If you think you have any of the signs, your Meriden, Hartford and East Hartford dentist can determine whether or not a root canal can save your problem tooth. Signs a root canal might be needed include:
- A severe toothache
- Constant pain or pressure in the mouth
- Major sensitivity to hot and cold items
- Experiencing sharp pain when biting into or chewing food
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is similar to having a cavity filled. The infected material inside the damaged tooth is removed and the area is cleaned out. Once clean, it is filled in much like a cavity is. This helps prevent the infection from returning and also strengthens the tooth so it can function normally again without pain or sensitivity. Clearing out the infected material and strengthening the tooth allows it to be preserved rather than extracted.
Benefits of Root Canals
There are several benefits of undergoing a root canal, such as avoid extraction of a damaged tooth. Some of the benefits of having a root canal include:
- Avoiding extraction and preserving the natural tooth
- Eliminating infection and decay
- Relief from any pain associated with the infection
- Strengthening the damaged tooth
- Restoration of regular tooth functioning
- Reducing the strain on surrounding teeth that were previously compensating for the damaged tooth
Signs you may need a root canal include a severe toothache, pain or extreme sensitivity. To find out if you need a root canal, contact Prestige Dental Network in Meriden, Hartford and East Hartford, CT to schedule an appointment.