Posts for: February, 2019
People mainly identify orthodontics with braces. But while they’re a major part of it, braces aren’t the only way this important dental specialty can make a difference in a person’s bite.
For example, orthodontics can help guide the development of a younger patient’s facial structure that could head off future upper teeth misalignment. The area of focus is the upper jaw and palate (the roof of the mouth) that jointly make up a structure called the maxilla. The maxilla is actually formed by two bones fused together in the center of the palate along what is known as the midline suture running from front to back in the mouth.
The two bones remain separated until puberty, which helps accommodate rapid structural growth during childhood. But problems can arise if the upper jaw is too narrow, causing a “cross-bite” where the lower back teeth bite abnormally outside the upper ones. This can crowd upper permanent teeth and cause them to erupt improperly.
Using a technique called palatal expansion we can correct this abnormality if we act before the maxillary bones fuse. The technique employs a custom-made appliance called a palatal expander that attaches to the posterior teeth of the upper arch. Expanders have two halves joined by a small screw device to increase tension against the teeth to widen the jaw. A parent or the patient (if old enough) increases the tension by using a special key to turn the adjustment screw a tiny amount each day. This may cause minor discomfort that normally eases in a few minutes.
The patient wears the device until the jaw expands to the desired width and then allows the bones to stabilize in the new position. This can sometimes create a small gap between the upper front teeth, but it often closes on its own or it may require braces to close it.
While palatal expanders are not for every case, they can help normalize development and improve the bite, and thus preclude more extensive orthodontic treatment later. But time is of the essence: after the maxilla has fused, surgery will be necessary to separate them and widen the palate. It’s important then not to delay if your child could benefit from this effective treatment.
If you would like more information on palatal expanders and other orthodontic treatments, 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 “Palatal Expanders.”
You have a lot of options for replacing missing teeth, from state-of-the-art dental implants to affordable, but effective partial dentures. But if the teeth in question have been missing for a while, you may first have to undergo orthodontic treatment. Here's why.
While they may feel rigid and firm in the jawbone, teeth are actually held in place by periodontal (gum) ligaments. These elastic tissues lie between the teeth and the bone and attach to both with tiny filaments. This mechanism allows the teeth to incrementally move over time in response to biting pressures or other environmental factors.
When a tooth goes missing the teeth on either side of the space naturally move or "drift" into it to help close the gap. This natural occurrence can reduce the space for a restoration if it has gone on for some time. To make room for a new prosthetic (false) tooth, we may have to move the drifted teeth back to where they belong.
If you're thinking metal braces, that is an option—but not the only one. Clear aligners are another way to move teeth if the bite problem (malocclusion) isn't too severe. Aligners are a series of custom-made, clear, plastic trays worn over the teeth. The patient wears each tray, slightly smaller than the previous one in the series, for about two weeks before changing to the next one. The reduction in size gradually moves teeth to their intended target position.
Many adults prefer clear aligners because they're nearly invisible and don't stand out like metal braces. They're removable, so you can take them out for cleaning or for special occasions. And, we can also attach a prosthetic tooth to the tray that temporarily covers the missing tooth space.
Whichever orthodontic treatment you choose, once completed we can then proceed with restoration to permanently replace your missing teeth. While it can be a long process, the end result is a beautiful smile that could last for years to come.
If you would like more information on your dental restoration options, 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 “Straightening a Smile before Replacing Lost Teeth.”
Do you feel hopeless about your smile? Well, then you need to learn about how you can rebuild it with state-of-the art dental implants—the sure way to get a great-looking and fully functional smile! At our St. Louis, MO, office, Drs. Jeffrey and Jodi Johnson use titanium implants to replace single teeth, support multi-tooth bridges, and even anchor complete dentures. Are you ready to feel good about your smile?
Here's how implants work
A dental implant is a titanium metal screw that is placed directly into the empty socket where the natural tooth roots had previously been. The surrounding bone then bonds to the implant as the site heals. This bonding process is called osseointegration, and it is responsible for the implant's lifelike security and durability.
Once the device is fully integrated into the jaw, your St. Louis, MO, dentist attaches an extension post (abutment) and customized porcelain crown. Two, four, or more implants anchor prosthetics such as bridges or dentures. Whatever the case, osseointegration practically guarantees long-term retention of these amazing devices. The Journal of Oral Implantology estimates the dental implant success rate at about 98 percent.
Could you receive dental implants?
The best tooth replacement scenario is the insertion of a dental implant soon after dental extraction. This way, the underlying jaw bone does not have a chance to recede once the natural tooth is removed.
However, even people who have had smile gaps for years can receive dental implants. Dr. Johnson will evaluate you with examination and special X-rays to determine your jaw bone health, size, and density. The more bone you have, the quicker your dental implant will integrate into the jaw. Special augmentation procedures can also add bone to the areas which are deficient.
Caring for your implants
It's as simple as caring for your natural teeth. As the American Dental Association (ADA) advises:
- Brush twice daily with a quality fluoride toothpaste
- Floss daily with and ADA-approved product your hygienist recommends
- Avoid bruxism, or teeth clenching, by wearing a protective mouth guard at night
- Avoid tobacco—both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco—because it leads to an infection that degrades the bone and gums at implant sites
- See your dentist semi-annually for a complete check-up and professional cleaning
Find out more
Drs. Jeffrey and Jodi Johnson love to see their patients smile! They offer dental implants as the best tooth replacement options around. Looking to rebuild your smile? Call their office for a dental implant consultation, and learn all the details. Phone (314) 427-7400 today!
While children are less likely than adults to experience periodontal (gum) disease, the same can't be said for tooth decay. One aggressive form of decay called early childhood caries (ECC) can have a profound effect on a child's dental development and future health.
That's why dentists who treat young children often use a variety of preventive measures to reduce the risk of ECC and other dental diseases. One popular method is dental sealants, dental material coatings applied to the biting surfaces of teeth that fill in the naturally occurring pits and crevices. These areas are highly susceptible to plaque formation, a bacterial biofilm of food particles that tends to accumulate on teeth. It's the bacteria that live in plaque that are most responsible for the formation of tooth decay.
Roughly one third of children between the ages of 6 and 11 have received some form of dental sealant. It's a quick and painless procedure applied during a routine office visit. The dentist brushes the sealant in liquid form on the teeth, and then hardens it with a special curing light. It's common for children to begin obtaining sealant protection as their molars begin to come in.
With their increased popularity among dentists, researchers have conducted a number of studies to see whether dental sealants have a measurable effect reducing tooth decay. After reviewing the cases of thousands of children over several years, many of these studies seemed to show that children who didn't receive sealants were more than twice as likely to get cavities as children who did.
As evidence continues to mount for dental sealants' effectiveness protecting young children from decay, both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now recommend it for all children. Not only can sealants help preserve children's teeth now, but they can reduce future costs for dental treatment that results from tooth decay.