BRACES AND ORTHODONTICS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

When Is the Best Time to See an Orthodontist?

Ideally, you should bring your child to our Houston orthodontics specialists by the age of 7. At this time, we can not only spot orthodontic problems but also influence proper tooth eruption and jaw development with interceptive treatment. However, anyone can undergo orthodontic treatment at any age to achieve straight teeth and an aligned bite.

Will I Need to Have Teeth Extracted?

When teeth are crowded, the first premolars are sometimes extracted prior to placing braces to create more room in the dental arch. This allows us to more easily shift the teeth into the right positions. However, this is most often necessary for teens and adults who did not undergo interceptive orthodontic treatment as children. When we catch crowding issues early, we are able to use palatal expanders to widen the jaw and make room for all the teeth so that extraction is not necessary later.

How Long Will My Orthodontic Treatment Take?

Every case is different, but the average treatment time is around two years. Minor orthodontic issues can be corrected in as little as six months, but more extensive problems involving the bite or rotated teeth can take up to 30 months.

What Are the Functions of Common Orthodontic Appliances?

Your Houston orthodontist may use some or all of the following during your treatment:

  • Separators: Small rubber “donuts” that are placed between the teeth for a couple of weeks to create space for metal bands around the molars.
  • Brackets and bands: Appliances bonded to the teeth to hold the archwires and other attachments in place.
  • Archwires: Thin metal wires that apply pressure to the teeth to move them into their proper positions.
  • Elastics: Small rubber bands that are hooked from one tooth to another to close gaps or correct bite alignment problems.
  • Headgear: An appliance that attaches to the braces from the back of the head to apply extra force for tooth and jaw movement.
  • Palatal expander: Widens the upper jaw to help with tooth crowding and make the upper and lower jaw meet properly.
  • Thumb tongue crib: Helps stop a thumb sucking habit and prevents the tongue from thrusting against the top teeth.
  • Herbst appliance: Helps correct overbite by pushing back the upper molars and encouraging forward growth of the lower jaw.
  • Retainer: A device that holds the teeth in place after braces are removed.

Do I Still Need to See My Houston dentist for Exams and Cleanings?

Regular checkups are more important than ever during orthodontic treatment. Braces easily trap plaque and food particles and are difficult to keep clean, so you need to be vigilant with your oral health practices. Checkups with your Houston family dentist are essential for tooth and gum health, and regular cleanings remove surface stains so that your teeth do not reveal white spots where the brackets once were when your braces are removed.

PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why Treat Baby Teeth That Have Cavities if They Are Going to Fall Out Eventually?

Healthy baby teeth are necessary for your child to eat and speak properly. Moreover, primary teeth hold spaces for permanent teeth. If baby teeth fall out too soon, the other teeth can shift and block eruption of the adult teeth, leading to a number of issues that must be addressed by a Houston orthodontics specialist. Good care now from a Houston dentist for kids maximizes your child’s chances of healthy permanent teeth later.

Is Oral Conscious Sedation Safe for My Child?

The highly trained Houston dentist for kids at Smile Sonrisa Dental take every possible safety precaution when administering oral conscious sedation. We deliver the minimal dose necessary for relaxation, carefully monitor your child’s vital signs throughout the procedure, and can quickly reverse the effects of the medication if complications arise.

Who Needs Fluoride Treatments and Sealants?

Overall, children’s oral health has improved dramatically since the advent of routine fluoride treatments and sealant applications. Fluoride helps harden and strengthen tooth enamel to ward off decay, and it is beneficial for our adult patients as well. Dental sealants are plastic coatings applied to the permanent premolars and molars as soon as they erupt, and they can last 10 years or longer, helping seal out decay in children and teens during their most cavity-prone years. Because certain health conditions and medications can make adults more susceptible to decay, we also provide sealants to some of our older patients.

How Can I Get My Kids To Brush Their Teeth?

Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will also be enthusiastic. Children want to do the things their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. Ask the dentist for other creative ways to get children to brush their teeth.

Getting your children to brush starts with taking them to the dentist at an early age. All children should be seen by their first birthday or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth.

TEEN AND ADULT DENTISTRY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY SHOULD I FLOSS, ISN’T BRUSHING ENOUGH?

Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only the dentist can remove tartar.

Ask your dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.

WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF ORAL PIERCINGS?

The American Dental Association recognizes that piercing is a widely accepted form of self-expression, and that includes piercings in the mouth. However, the potential problems from piercings are numerous. Some symptoms after a piercing include pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss, scarring, chipped teeth, tooth loss, and an increased flow of saliva, none of which are particularly pleasant. Tongue piercing can also cause excessive bleeding. If you’re thinking of placing a piercing in or around your mouth, talk to your dentist first. If you already have piercings and are having problems, see your dentist right away.

I KNOCKED OUT A TOOTH IN AN ACCIDENT, CAN IT BE SAVED?

Oral injuries are often painful, and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible. If you have knocked out a tooth, these tips may be able to save it:

  • Rinse, do not scrub, the tooth to remove dirt or debris
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue
  • Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket as this could cause further damage
  • Get to the dentist. Successful re-implantation is possible only when treatment is performed promptly
  • If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk.

WHAT CAUSES MORNING BREATH?

When you are asleep, production in your mouth decreases. Since your saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, most people experience morning breath. Bacteria found on teeth in the crevices and on the taste buds of the tongue, break down the food particles, which produce sulfur compounds. It is actually these sulfur compounds which give our breath a bad odor. During desk, your saliva helps to wash away bacteria and food particles. Your saliva also helps to dissolve the foul smelling sulfur compounds.

Chronic, long-term mouth odor can be a sign of more serious illness. See your dentist if this is a concern.

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT SENSITIVE TEETH?

Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce – if not eliminate – the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.

WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pus coming from around the teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Tender gums
  • Bleeding gums

Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.

DO WHITENING TOOTHPASTES WORK?

Commercial whitening toothpastes vary greatly in their ability to whiten teeth. They work by removing surface stains from the teeth with the use of mild abrasives. However, unlike professional whitening, some whitening toothpastes do not alter the intrinsic color of the teeth. Toothpastes that are effective in removing stains can also destroy tooth enamel in the process. These toothpastes use harsh abrasives. With repeated use, harsh abrasives begin to damage tooth enamel and can contribute to increased tooth sensitivity. If you would like to try a whitening toothpaste, consult with your Smile Sonrisa Dental dentist first.

WHAT CAUSES CANKER SORES?

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown. Some factors may include genetics, allergies, stress, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Trauma to the inside of the mouth can result in the development of canker sores. Ill-fitting dentures or braces, toothbrush trauma from brushing too hard, or biting your cheek, may produce canker sores. Certain foods may also be a factor. Citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Foods like chips, pretzels and hard candies have sharp edges that can nick and injure the soft tissue of the mouth.

To treat a canker sore, rinse your mouth with antimicrobial mouthwash or warm water and salt. Over the counter treatments are also available. If the canker sore is present longer than two weeks, see your Smile Sonrisa Dental dentist.

IS SMOKELESS TOBACCO HARMFUL?

Smokeless tobacco may be smokeless, but it isn’t harmless. These are some of the potential hazards:

  • A sore that does not heal
  • A lump or white patch
  • A prolonged sore throat
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw
  • A feeling of something in the throat
  • Pain is rarely an early symptom. All tobacco users need to see their dentist regularly.

WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT BLEEDING GUMS?

People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing as frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. However, when gums are inflamed, brushing could help reduce the inflammation. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.

It is also worth noting that chronic dental pain and discomfort are obvious signs of a problem. Over-the-counter drugs may provide some temporary relief. These medications usually only mask the existence of a problem and should be taken on a temporary basis.

It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible if your gums begin to bleed.

WHY DO MY TEETH DARKEN?

Many factors work to destroy the naturally white smile you were born with. Tobacco, certain foods, and certain drinks actually stain teeth. These substances continually work on our teeth causing our white smile to gradually fade. Hot coffee and tea are especially hazardous to your smile because they change the temperature of teeth. This temperature change – hot and cold cycling – causes the teeth to expand and contract allowing stains to penetrate the teeth. Cutting down on coffee and tea can go a long way to creating a great smile. Foods that are slightly acidic are also dangerous to your white smile. These foods open up the pores of the tooth enamel allowing stains to move more easily into the tooth.

Your dentist can help you with more tips on keeping a white smile.

I HAVE DIABETES. WHY IS MY DENTIST CONCERNED?

Research today suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes. Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. If blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you may be more likely to develop gum disease and could potentially lose teeth. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and follow home care recommendations. If you notice other conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums, be sure to talk with your dentist. And don’t forget to mention any changes in medications.

WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE ANTIBIOTICS BEFORE MY DENTAL APPOINTMENT?

There are certain conditions that require pre-medication with an antibiotic prior to dental treatment to prevent adverse effects and infection that can be caused by bacteria that enter the blood stream during certain treatment. You will want to consult with your dentist about this prior to treatment.

I HAVE DENTURES. IS IT NECESSARY FOR ME TO STILL SEE MY DENTIST?

Visits to the dentist include more than just “checking teeth.” While patients who wear dentures no longer have to worry about dental decay, they may have concerns with ill-fitting appliances or mouth sores to name a few. Annual visits to the dentist (or sooner if soreness is present) is recommended. During these visits, an oral cancer screening and head and neck exam will be performed as well as an evaluation of the fit or need for replacement of the existing appliances. Regular visits can help you to avoid more complicated problems down the road.