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How Braces Move Teeth

 

FORMER AND CURRENT braces-wearers know firsthand how much of an effect a few pieces of metal can have on a smile with the help of a skilled orthodontist. It’s pretty incredible, but how does this process actually work? What do the different parts of the appliance do, and how do the tissues of the mouth respond?

The Anatomy of Braces

Let’s quickly go through a list of the basic parts of a typical orthodontic appliance: the arch-wires, the brackets, and the bands (sometimes called o-rings or ligatures). Depending on what the patient needs, they may have additional pieces to help with their treatment plan. A common addition is rubber bands, which help with correcting a bad bite. If your treatment includes rubber bands, make sure to follow the orthodontist’s instructions exactly! Don’t forget them or double them up, because either will result in your treatment taking longer!

The Brackets

Brackets are the metal pieces that are cemented onto each tooth. When the orthodontist places the brackets, the position has to be just right so that the pressure applied by the braces will be in the right direction and move the teeth where they’re supposed to be. That’s why a new orthodontic patient might look like their braces have a lot of zig-zags in their shape!

The Arch-wires

Once the brackets are in place, the arch-wires can go in. These are the strips of flexible metal that will attach to the brackets and be held in place by the colorful bands. The thickness of the arch-wire and the material it’s made of are important considerations in a patient’s treatment. Over time, arch-wires provide steady, gradual pressure to guide teeth into their correct positions.

The Biology of Moving Teeth

Now we know what the different parts of braces are for, but none of that would matter if the human body wasn’t as amazing as it is. Two critical types of bone cells are involved in reshaping a smile: osteoclasts and osteoblasts. When steady pressure is applied around a tooth, osteoclasts break down the bone tissue in the way to make room for the tooth to move. On the other side, osteoblasts build new bone tissue to keep the tooth’s root snugly encased within the jaw.

Just think about that. Our jaws are capable of literally reshaping themselves in response to the pressure from braces! It’s important to note that it takes more time for the new bone tissue to grow behind the teeth than it does for it to be broken down. That’s one reason why it’s so important to wear retainers after the braces come off. The new bone tissue needs time to finish growing so the teeth don’t shift back to a crooked position!

Bring Us Your Braces Questions!

Braces are our passion, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have about how they do what they do. So whether you’re thinking of getting them or you’re a current patient who wants to learn more, just give us a call!

 

No one has better smiles than our patients!

 

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Advantages of Straight Teeth

CONTRARY TO WHAT some people might think, having straight teeth isn’t just about looking good — not that there aren’t aesthetic benefits too. Studies show that a person with straight teeth is seen as being happier, wealthier, and more attractive than a person with crooked teeth, and knowing your smile looks good can be a real confidence boost. But there are also real health benefits to having properly aligned teeth.

Straight Teeth Are Easier to Clean

Teeth that are crowded and overlap each other tend to be harder to brush and floss effectively, which makes them more vulnerable to tooth decay. When teeth are straight, there’s plenty of space to floss between them and brush all the surfaces, so it’s easier to keep plaque under control.

Our Teeth Help Us Speak Clearly

Having poorly aligned teeth or a malocclusion such as an under-bite or severe overbite can actually make it harder to enunciate words properly, contributing to speech impediments like lisps. It might take some time to get used to speaking with braces or a retainer, but when the orthodontic treatment is over, it will be easier than ever to speak clearly!

Proper Chewing Is Crucial to Good Digestion

Chewing isn’t just about breaking our food into small enough pieces to swallow, it’s actually the first step in the chemical digestion process. While our teeth grind up the food, our saliva begins to break it down. Poorly aligned teeth are less able to chew food as much as it should be chewed, placing a greater burden on the rest of the digestive system. This can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including making it harder to lose weight.

Breathe Easier with Straight Teeth

Even breathing can be influenced by the way teeth fit together. If you can’t comfortably close your jaws when resting, you’re more likely to end up breathing through your mouth. This might not seem like a big deal, but mouth breathing has numerous negative health effects. Among them are chronic bad breath and dry mouth (which in turn increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay).

Crooked Teeth Can Be a Pain in the Jaw

When there’s a problem with the bite, the chances of jaw problems like temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ or TMS) go way up. Symptoms include things like a clicking jaw joint when doing normal mouth movements, jaw pain, and frequent headaches.

Want Straight Teeth? We Can Help!

If you’ve avoided getting braces because you’re happy with the way your smile works, you could still benefit from orthodontic treatment in numerous ways that are arguably more substantial from a health perspective. Straight teeth are easier to clean, make it easier to chew, speak, and breathe correctly, and are better for good digestion and jaw health. Want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment? Just give us a call!

We think everyone deserves the benefits of having a properly aligned smile!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

A Quick Guide To Retainer Maintenance

 

THE DAY YOUR BRACES come off will arrive sooner than you think, but your orthodontic treatment won’t quite be over yet. In order to keep the straight smile you and our practice are working so hard for, you’ll need to wear your retainers. Retainers are different from braces in many ways, including how to take care of them.

Why Does A Retainer Need Cleaning?

As you wear your retainer, it accumulates bacteria, plaque, and tartar. We brush and floss to prevent this buildup on our teeth and gums, and we have to clean our retainers for the same reason. Without sufficient cleaning, a retainer can become smelly, foul-tasting, filmy, cloudy, and covered in small white spots.

Removable retainers should be rinsed with cool water and brushed at least once a day. It can be tricky to floss around a permanent retainer, but doing so is crucial to prevent tartar from building up in the crevices around it. You can use threaders to make flossing easier or invest in a water flosser if you don’t have one already.

Deep-Cleaning Your Retainer

Like with teeth, daily cleanings can only do so much, which is why retainers need the occasional deep clean to remain good as new. For a permanent retainer, the hygienist will be able to take care of this at your regular cleaning appointments, but you can clean a removable retainer yourself.

Deep-cleaning a retainer is easy and can be done very cheaply. You can use special retainer cleaning tablets if you prefer, but a simple mixture of baking soda and water will do the trick. Water and vinegar would also work, or you could use hydrogen peroxide, but never use harsh chemicals like bleach. Soak the retainer for a few minutes, then rinse it and let it dry.

Proper Retainer Storage

If you only have to wear your retainer part time, then it’s crucial to know how to store it when it’s out of your mouth. Harmful bacteria love warm, damp, enclosed environments, so make sure you keep your retainer somewhere safe and cool that it can fully dry when you aren’t wearing it. (The same goes for how you should store your toothbrush!) For some types of retainers, it’s better to soak them in water to store them, so be sure to check with us about what your type of retainer needs.

Are Retainers Really So Important?

Yes! Our teeth are held in place by the jaw bone and the periodontal ligament. These supporting structures need time to get used to the new, straight position of your teeth. Wearing a retainer for the amount of time specified by the orthodontist ensures that your jaws will get used to the new arrangement. Without the retainer, your teeth can slide back towards their original position until you need another round of braces to fix it! Nobody wants that.

Come To Us With Any Retainer Questions

Whether your retainers are clear plastic or wire and acrylic, bonded or removable, we’re here to answer any questions you have about how to take care of them. This is a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment and we want you to have the best experience and result possible!

Congratulations on graduating from braces to retainers!

Retain Your New Smile After Braces with a Retainer - Eastman ...
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Hidden Sugars In Our Food

Various candies on a table.

 

WHEN WE THINK OF SUGARY FOOD, we usually picture things like candy, cake, pie, ice cream, and soda, but there is sugar hiding in many of the foods we buy at the grocery store — even foods we don’t think of as sweet! This is bad news for our oral health, because the harmful bacteria in our mouths love all that sugar, whether we know we’re eating it or not.

Sugar’s Many Disguises

Unfortunately, finding the sugar in the food we buy isn’t so simple these days, because it hides behind many tricky-sounding names. Here are some of the terms to look for when checking ingredient lists:

  • The “-ose” words: Fructose, sucrose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, glucose. All of these are scientific names for types of sugar molecules.
  • The syrups: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple/rice syrup, etc.
  • The sugars: Brown sugar, malt sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, coconut sugar, etc. Whether brown or white, liquid or powder, sugar is still sugar.
  • The “natural replacements”: agave nectar, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, 100 percent fruit juice. While whole fruit is definitely a healthier snack than a candy bar, fruit juice isn’t any better for your teeth than soda.
  • Molasses. 

While these are the most common disguises sugar may take, there are plenty more. A good clue is in the “added sugars” line on the nutrition labels. Unfortunately, these sugars can be found in everyday foods we often think of as healthy (or at least not unhealthy), like Raisin Bran, fruit-flavored yogurt, ketchup, barbecue sauce, granola, and even most types of bread! This is why it’s important to always read the labels!

Recommended Daily Sugar Intake

With sugar hiding in so much of our food, avoiding it entirely can be a difficult task, but our teeth (and the rest of us) will be healthier and happier if we can keep the overall amount to a minimum. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) a day for women, 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. That might not seem like much, but the good news is that the longer you go with less sugar in your day, the less you’ll miss it!

Healthy Sugar Replacements

At least as important as the amount of sugar we consume is how we consume it. The reason whole fruit is healthier than fruit juice is that the sugar in fruit comes with a lot of water and fiber, making it harder for our bodies to absorb. Whole fruit is also more filling, where as we could drink the equivalent of several oranges in juice and still have room for bacon, eggs, and toast. That right there is the difference between natural and processed sugars!

But what about when you get those sweet cravings and fruit just won’t cut it? That’s when sugar-free sweeteners like Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol or low-sugar alternatives like applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs come in handy. You’ll also have an easier time avoiding those insidious added sugars if you stick to whole foods.

 

Our practice has the sweetest patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.