The Oral Health Connection

March 1, 2021

The Oral Health ConnectionFrom a young age, we are taught the importance of taking care of our teeth with brushing and flossing to prevent cavities and other painful oral conditions, but poor oral hygiene can lead to more than a toothache. Did you know that your oral health and general health are connected?

Research shows that poor oral health can be associated with several major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This information is especially important for patients who are undergoing or considering orthodontic treatment, as appliances sometimes increase bacterial growth in your mouth which may lead to complications. Fortunately, our team is here to ensure your oral health is well managed so that your smile can remain happy and healthy.

How can my oral health affect my general health?

Your mouth can be a window into your body’s overall health and wellness as many signs of infection, nutritional deficiencies, and warning signs of serious health conditions often present themselves in your oral health. Your mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some good and some bad. The overgrowth of bad bacteria can cause tooth decay and periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.

Gum disease is a condition where bacterial growth within the mouth results in an infection of the surrounding and supporting soft tissue of teeth. One of the most common causes of gum disease is the build-up of plaque that hardens into tartar which can only be removed by professionals. This buildup irritates the gums causing them to become swollen, red, and recede. As they recede higher, the infection continues to spread and can lead to eventual tooth and bone loss.

Braces and other orthodontic appliances provide extra surface areas in the mouth for harmful bacteria to grow. We understand brushing and flossing can become difficult with braces in the way, however, it is a vital part of maintaining your oral health and hygiene. Failing to brush and floss daily with braces can impact your treatment, oral health, and increase your risk for other conditions.

Conditions Associated with Gum Disease

Harmful bacteria and infection can easily spread from the mouth to the rest of the body through the bloodstream. For patients with gum disease, the added bacteria in your mouth can increase your risk for infections and certain health conditions including the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood sugar and pressure
  • Obesity
  • Respiratory conditions

Although gum disease may contribute to these conditions, it is important to note that just because these conditions may occur at the same time, does not mean that one directly caused the other. Studies show that conditions that lower your body’s resistance to infection are likely to increase your risk for other health complications including oral health conditions.

Signs

Common signs of gum disease may include the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Frequent mouth infections
  • Gums that bleed when you floss or brush
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Swollen, red, and tender gums
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth

If you notice any of these symptoms, bring them to our attention as these signs may be signs of gum disease or other serious health conditions.

Orthodontic Care and Good Oral Health Practices

If you have gum disease or a serious condition that can increase your risk of bacterial infections, orthodontic treatment may or not be possible. In moderate to severe cases, gum disease can cause your teeth to shift into undesirable positions during treatment. In other cases, the inflammation of gums may cause bleeding and sores due to friction against the appliances during treatment which can lead to infection. These complications may cause treatment to stop early to avoid increasing patient risk of infection. However, that doesn’t mean that if you are diabetic and have gum disease you are unable to receive orthodontic care. We will conduct a thorough evaluation of your teeth to determine the best course of treatment for your needs to ensure your oral health. Always tell your oral health care team about any changes in your health, especially if you have other health conditions such as lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease as well as any medications you are on as these may affect your treatment and oral health.

To best protect your mouth, it is important to practice good oral health practices regularly and attend routine professional cleanings throughout the year. You should brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a 45-degree angle with an ADA-approved toothbrush and toothpaste. Flossing helps to remove plaque and food particles that can’t be removed with brushing and we recommend patients floss at least once a day. You should replace your toothbrush every three months or once the bristles begin to break down.

Though brushing and floss can be your main defense against oral complications, routine exams and cleanings are also important as our staff is trained to identify and treat oral health conditions and look for signs that may cause concern. For more information about the importance of your oral health or to schedule an appointment, please contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.

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Overcrowding and How We Can Help You

Overcrowding and How We Can Help YouOvercrowding, also known as dental crowding or crowded teeth, is a common dental condition that refers to when your teeth are unable to grow straight due to a lack of space. When this occurs, your teeth may press together, overlap, and twist out of alignment with some teeth being pushed behind or in front of other teeth.

There are three degrees in which overcrowding is diagnosed:

  • Mild – Mild overcrowding refers to only one tooth being affected and is slightly rotated in the upper or lower jaw.
  • Moderate – Moderate overcrowding is when two or three teeth rotate or overlap in the upper or lower jaw.
  • Severe – Severe overcrowding means several or the majority of the teeth overlap in the upper or lower jaw.

What causes overcrowding?

Teeth should grow straight without crowding or gaps, but we know that is not always the cause. Here are some common factors that can lead to overcrowding:

  • Abnormal tooth growth
  • Excess teeth
  • Genetics may cause teeth to be larger than your jaw can allow, or genetics may lead to a smaller jaw than average
  • Losing primary teeth too early may cause other teeth to shift into the empty space
  • Trauma and injury can fracture the jaw or lead to missing teeth which can cause teeth to shift in the healing process

Signs

If you are unsure if your teeth or your child’s teeth are crowded, there are some signs to look for that may indicate overcrowding, including:

  • Crooked teeth at unusual angles
  • Difficulty brushing and flossing
  • Jaw pain
  • Overlapping teeth
  • Trouble biting or chewing

Often overcrowding can be related to malocclusions or misalignments of the jaw which can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and a possible temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).

Does overcrowding need to be treated?

If left untreated, overcrowding can lead to a variety of oral health problems:

Poor Hygiene

Overcrowded teeth that overlap or twist against other teeth can make it difficult to brush and floss properly, making it easy for plaque and bacteria to build up in the mouth and increases the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and bad breath.

Gum Disease

If plaque and bacteria do build up in an overcrowded mouth, this may lead to the development of gum disease. Signs of gum disease include a bad taste in the mouth, bleeding gums, loose teeth, swollen red gums, and gums that pull away from the teeth.

Malocclusions

Failure to correct crowding during childhood can lead to the jaw becoming misaligned in adulthood which can cause headaches, jaw pain, and potentially lead to jaw dysfunctions.

Speech Impediments

Overcrowded teeth can also cause speech difficulties as they can interfere with the ease and clarity of pronouncing certain words. This will depend on the location and severity of the overcrowding. Dental crowding may also cause whistling when talking as air moves through the teeth.

What are my treatment options?

The treatment for overcrowding will depend on the patient’s age and conditioning. Common treatment options for overcrowding include braces, aligners, extractions, and retainers. Braces are the most common treatment for overcrowding, though they can be the lengthiest of treatment options and requires frequent visits to our office to adjust the appliance accordingly. Braces apply constant pressure to your teeth to move them into their proper position.

Aligners, including clear ones such as Invisalign, can correct mild cases of overcrowding. These options are an alternative to traditional braces and are removable, but can be more costly as they need to be replaced every two weeks so that the teeth will shift properly throughout treatment.

In some cases, tooth extraction may be necessary for overcrowded teeth, but this is often only in cases of excess teeth. Once the tooth is extracted, we can discuss the best treatment method for you to help guide your teeth into proper alignment.

Retainers are often used after most treatment options for overcrowding to ensure your smile stays in place. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions to properly use and care for your retainers so you can get the most out of your treatment.

As experienced orthodontists, we strive to provide you with high-quality care and service. A straight smile doesn’t have to be only a dream…we are here to assist you in achieving a healthy, bright, and beautiful smile! For more information on overcrowding and how we can help or to schedule a consultation, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.

Back-To-School Orthodontic Tips

Back-To-School Orthodontic TipsEven though the weather may be still hot and sunny, it is time to head back into the classroom for many of our patients! Whether you are preparing a child to go back to school or getting ready yourself, we understand that braces, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances can make navigating the new school year a little stressful. Not to fear though! Here are a few tips we’ve put together to help to make your back-to-school season smooth and stress-free!

Back-To-School Kit

When you have an orthodontic appliance, we strongly recommend patients brush their teeth after every meal. We understand that this may be tricky while at school, so we always encourage patients to prepare a travel kit for the semester, so that they can freshen up after a quick bite while on the go!

Your kit should include toothpaste, a toothbrush, floss or interdental brushes, lip balm, and dental wax. If you have braces, you might want to pack extra rubber bands if needed. The toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss are needed for cleaning and brushing between meals. Wax and lip balm can help to prevent irritation to the lips, gums, and cheeks.

Lunch Bunch Help

One of the biggest challenges for new orthodontic patients is the restrictions to their diet. Certain foods such as hard, crunchy, chewy, and sticky ones can damage, break, or get stuck within the appliance.

Certain items on the menu may not be suitable for you in-between classes, so you may need to pack your lunch occasionally or eat mindfully. Even sandwiches may need to be cut into smaller bites to prevent the bread and fillings from clinging to your appliance. If you are packing lunch for your child, be sure to include easy-to-eat treats such as pasta, lean cuts of meat, yogurt, applesauce, cheese, and soft fruits and vegetables.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water frequently throughout the day is one of the easiest ways to keep your braces and other oral appliances clear of food. Water can rinse food from brackets and wires, and though sodas, sports drinks, and juices can be tempting, they can increase the risk of cavities and buildup in your mouth, so we recommend water as your first choice of beverage!

Sports & Mouthguards

If you plan to play sports this year, make sure you speak to your orthodontist about choosing a mouthguard. Any sport can run the risk of mouth, teeth, and jaw injuries, however, some sports are a greater risk than others such as hockey, rugby, and football.

Mouthguards are cushioning oral appliances made of flexible material that fits snugly over your teeth to help protect against injuries to the teeth and mouth. They also prevent your jaws from coming together fully, reducing the risk of jaw joint injuries and concussion.

You can purchase mouthguards from sports stores or purchase a boil-and-bite type at pharmacies, but be sure you select one that is designed for people with braces or retainers. We can also create a custom mouthguard for you in the office so that you can be sure it fits your mouth perfectly.

It’s normal to feel a little nervous about the new school term, but orthodontic treatment shouldn’t be stressful. A straight and healthy smile can take time, but we hope that with these tips, the school year starts off stress-free! We wish all students and teachers a wonderful start to the year. For more information on how to navigate the school year with orthodontic treatment or to schedule an appointment, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.

Manual vs. Electric: Which Toothbrush Is Right For You?

Manual vs. Electric: Which Toothbrush Is Right For You?If you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, you know how important it is to take extra care in brushing your teeth to prevent the buildup of plaque around your braces or other orthodontic appliances. Part of this care begins with choosing the right toothbrush to help keep your teeth and appliances clean. Choosing between the traditional manual toothbrush or an electric-powered brush can be difficult, so we’ve put together a few facts to help you decide.

Manual vs. Electric

Your orthodontic appliances can trap food between your wires, brackets, and teeth easily and increase your risk of building up plaque that will lead to tooth decay and gum disease, so it is important to choose the right toothbrush.

Benefits of Manual Toothbrushes

The traditional manual toothbrushes are more cost-effective compared to electric-powered brushes. Though they may not be as powerful in brush strength, you can control how you brush each tooth, and the convenience of never having to worry about batteries or if your toothbrush is charged can’t be beaten! Plus, replacing a manual toothbrush can be easier and less expensive than their electric counterparts.

Some may argue that electric brushes are better since some models are proven to significantly remove more plaque buildup, but research shows that patients with good oral hygiene routines who use manual toothbrushes have similar results.

Benefits of Electric Powered Toothbrushes

Electronically powered toothbrushes have small brush heads so that you can reach all areas of the mouth easily and are ideal for patients with limited mobility. Some even have varied bristle lengths and widths to clean away areas where food, debris, and plaque may hide. These powerful brushes enable you to remove plaque easier than manual brushes and may even come with different modes such as ones for sensitive teeth, removing stains, and tongue cleaning.

One of the drawbacks to choosing electrotonic toothbrushes is that they are more expensive compared to manual ones. For orthodontic patients, this may be a major factor as braces and other orthodontic appliances can break down bristles fast causing you to need replacement heads more frequently.

Which Is Right For You?

We say the toothbrush best for you is the one you will use. As you can see, both electric-powered and manual brushes are great options for keeping your oral health in tip-top shape. Remember to floss between your teeth and brackets carefully.

It can take some time and practice to get used to brushing your teeth with braces, but we are here for you and will give you plenty of information and demonstrate how to properly brush your teeth with whatever brush you select. Always look for a brush that has the ADA seal as products with this seal are tested for safety and effectiveness. If you are unsure which toothbrush is best for you or if you have any questions about our services, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.

Sensitive Teeth and Orthodontics

Sensitive Teeth and OrthodonticsOn a hot summer day, it is common to find yourself seeking a cool refreshment to make you more comfortable in the heat. What is not as common is feeling a sharp pain through your teeth once you take a bite or sip of a cool treat. We aren’t talking about brain freezes–we are talking about sensitive teeth!

Tooth sensitivity is triggered by hot or cold temperatures, sweet or sour foods, and drinks, or deep cavities and fillings. When the protective layer of enamel on your teeth wears away and exposes the dentin layer of your teeth, sensitivity occurs due to the porous nature of dentin.

Common Causes

Diet- Acidic foods and beverages can also eat away at your enamel and make your teeth more prone to erosion. Rinse your mouth with water afterward and wait at least one hour after eating or drinking before brushing your teeth.

Hygiene Habits- Poor oral health habits such as not brushing properly or flossing may also cause plaque and bacteria to build up and break down your tooth’s enamel, weakening them and making them more susceptible to sensitivity. Over brushing is a common cause for tooth sensitivity as a hard bristle brush or firm hand can wear down on your enamel and expose porous surfaces that lead to your tooth’s nerves increasing sensitivity.

Grinding Your Teeth- Patients who grind their teeth may create small fractures in their teeth that may irritate nerves and increase sensitivity as well.

Oral Health Conditions- Receding gums can also expose those that are normally protected by your enamel and increase nerve sensitivity in your teeth. Tooth decay, cavities, or deep fillings that penetrate deeply close to the nerve may also cause irritation and the development of tooth sensitivity. Certain dental conditions may also increase your risk of tooth sensitivity such as overcrowding, crooked teeth, and misaligned bites.

Whitening Products- You may also increase your tooth sensitivity by using certain teeth whitening products or chemicals. The main ingredient in many whitening solutions is peroxide which can irritate your teeth’s nerves and lead to sensitivity.

Treating Tooth Sensitivity

Your treatment will depend on the cause and severity. If your pain is due to an orthodontic adjustment, an over-the-counter pain reliever will help to reduce pain until the discomfort subsides.

For those whose sensitivity is caused by poor hygiene habits, then switching toothbrushes and brushing patterns can provide a great deal of relief–a soft-bristle brush will help to keep your teeth clean without damaging the enamel or gums. Using toothpaste designed for those with sensitive teeth can also help offer relief. Patients should notice a difference after several weeks of normal usage. If your sensitivity is severe and persists for several days, we may recommend scheduling an appointment to rule out cavities or other dental conditions that may be creating tooth sensitivity.

Orthodontics and Sensitive Teeth

When undergoing orthodontic treatment, you may also experience sensitive teeth. During treatment, your teeth are slowly shifted into alignment by using braces, and after an adjustment, you may notice minor sensitivity and discomfort. Fortunately, this is temporary and should not last more than a day or two following your appointment. If you experience sensitive teeth longer or chronically, consult your orthodontist. We will be able to recommend further care or may suggest scheduling an appointment with your dentist to discuss additional treatment options.

Remember to keep your teeth clean by brushing around the brackets, bands, and wires as best as possible, and flossing as proper hygiene will help to reduce plaque buildup that can wear down enamel and lead to sensitive teeth. For some, Invisalign may be an option depending on your case for those with extremely sensitive teeth. This clear aligner provides a lower risk of irritation and allows for easier cleaning.

Having sensitive teeth shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life to the fullest or prevent you from receiving orthodontic treatment. For more information on orthodontics and how we can help with sensitive teeth or to schedule an appointment, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.

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