By Wang and Cortes Dental
June 16, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
ConsiderClearAlignersInsteadofBracesforYourTeen

Your teenager is about to take a big step toward better health and a more attractive appearance — orthodontic treatment. You both know the benefits: better chewing function, lower risk of dental disease, and, of course, a straighter and more beautiful smile.

But your teen might also dread the next couple of years of wearing braces. And it's hard to blame them: although they're effective, wearing braces restricts eating certain snacks and foods, they require extra time and effort for brushing and flossing, and they're often uncomfortable to wear. And of high importance to a teenager, they may feel embarrassed to wear them.

But over the last couple of decades a braces alternative has emerged: clear aligners. This form of bite correction requires fewer food restrictions, allows greater ease in hygiene, and is considered more attractive than braces. In fact, most observers won't notice them when a wearer smiles.

Clear aligners are a series of clear plastic trays created by computer that are worn in a certain sequence. During wear each tray exerts pressure on the teeth to gradually move them in the desired direction. The patient wears a single tray for two weeks and then changes to the next tray in the sequence, which will be slightly different than the previous tray. At the end of the process, the teeth will have been moved to their new positions.

Clear aligners aren't appropriate for all bite problems. When they are, though, they offer a couple of advantages over braces. Unlike braces, a wearer can remove the aligner to brush and floss their teeth or for rare, special or important social occasions. And, of course, their appearance makes them less likely to cause embarrassment while wearing them.

In recent years, design improvements have increased the kinds of bites aligners can be used to correct. For example, they now often include “power ridges,” tiny features that precisely control the amount and direction of pressure applied to the teeth. They've also become thinner and more comfortable to wear.

If you're interested in clear aligners as a treatment option, talk with your orthodontist about whether your teen is a good candidate. If so, they could make orthodontic treatment for achieving a more attractive and healthy smile less of an ordeal.

If you would like more information on clear aligners as an orthodontic option, 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 “Clear Aligners for Teens.”

By Wang and Cortes Dental
June 01, 2017
Category: Oral Health
ActressEmmaStoneRevealsHowThumbSuckingAffectedHerTeeth

It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.

“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”

While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)

When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.

Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.

But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.

Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”

By contactus@yoursouthtampadentist.com
May 26, 2017
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

If you’ve ever wanted to know what your smile could look like after a treatment, then do I have an offer for you. For a limited time, I am offering a free PreVu cosmetic simulation to my patients who have considered cosmetic treatments but want “proof” that they’ll be happy with the results.

PreVu dental uses digital technology to let you “preview” your treatment results. Whitening? You’ll see your gleaming smile looking back at you from a monitor. Orthodontics? You’ll love the results. Veneers, bridges, or dental implants? Wait until you see yourself! PreVu gives you a risk-free way to see exactly what your teeth will look like in your mouth, and on your face. Not a photoshopped before and after, but a real image.

Your PreVu cosmetic simulation will be completed in my office. It is fast, easy, and 100% painless. If we’ve spoken about cosmetic or restorative treatments, or if you’ve been considering them on your own, now is the time to see what your smile will look like after you commit to a treatment plan.

Call my office today to schedule an appointment. The free PreVu sessions won’t last forever, though, so don’t delay. I can’t wait to see your future smile!

 
By contactus@yoursouthtampadentist.com
May 26, 2017
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

 

Last month, I shared how to handle two common pediatric dental emergencies: what to do when a baby tooth is knocked out and what to do if a permanent tooth is knocked out. Children are constantly on the move, so it’s important to have a plan in place. But what if the dental emergency doesn’t involve the entire tooth? These next two tips can save your child’s smile.

What To Do If a Tooth Is Chipped or Broken

  1. Contact my office as soon as possible. Getting your child an urgent care appointment may allow me to save the tooth and prevent further damage.

  2. In the meantime, have your child rinse his or her mouth with cold water. Use an ice pack to prevent swelling and help numb some of the pain.

  3. Find the broken tooth fragment and bring it with you to my office.

What To Do If Your Child Is Involved In a Contact Sport

  1. Make sure your child wears a mouth guard any time he or she is playing. Even non-contact sports, such as tennis, can involve falling, so consider a mouth guard for any activity that is potentially risky.

  2. If your child is uncomfortable with the moldable guards that are available in sporting goods stores or other retailers, consider investing in one that is custom made. The mouth guards that I make for children are made for the unique needs of each child, making it more comfortable. If the mouth guard is comfortable, then your child will be more likely to wear it.

Save keeping them in a plastic bubble, there is no way to keep our children from experiencing the bumps and scrapes of childhood. What you can do, however, is be prepared for the inevitable. If you have any other questions about your child’s teeth or are concerned about their involvement in sports or other activities, contact my office today to schedule an appointment. I want to make sure their teeth last into adulthood and beyond.

 
By Wang and Cortes Dental
May 17, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
IfatAllPossiblePrimaryTeethareWorthSaving

Primary (baby) teeth might not last long, but their impact can last a lifetime. Their first set of teeth not only allows young children to eat solid foods, but also guide permanent teeth to form and erupt in the proper position.

Unfortunately, primary teeth aren't immune to tooth decay. If the decay is extensive, the tooth may not last as long as it should. Its absence will increase the chances the permanent teeth won't come in correctly, which could create a poor bite (malocclusion) that's costly to correct.

If a primary tooth is already missing, we can try to prevent a malocclusion by installing a “space appliance.” This keeps nearby teeth from drifting into the empty space intended for the permanent tooth. The best approach, though, is to try to save a primary tooth from premature loss.

We can often do this in much the same way as we would with a permanent tooth — by removing decayed material and filling the prepared space. We can also perform preventive applications like topical fluoride or sealants that strengthen or protect the tooth.

It becomes more complicated, though, if the pulp, the interior of the tooth, becomes decayed. The preferred treatment for this in a permanent adult tooth is a root canal treatment. But with a primary tooth we must also consider the permanent tooth forming below it in the jaw and its proximity to the primary tooth. We need to adapt our treatment for the least likely damage to the permanent tooth.

For example, it may be best to remove as much decayed structure as possible without entering the pulp and then apply an antibacterial agent to the area, a procedure known as an indirect pulp treatment. We might also remove only parts of the pulp, if we determine the rest of the pulp tissue appears healthy. We would then dress the wound and seal the tooth from further infection.

Whatever procedure we use will depend on the extent of decay. As we said before, our number one concern is the permanent tooth beneath the primary. By focusing on the health of both we can help make sure the permanent one comes in the right way.

If you would like more information on caring for children's primary teeth, 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 “Root Canal Treatment for Children's Teeth.”





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