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Did you know that having straight or “aligned” teeth has benefits other than the obvious cosmetic effects? The position of your teeth can have an impact on your lip and facial support, because their position is what determines how the muscle and skin lay over them.  The teeth also have a major role in speech development, because your ability to form different sounds is dependent on the way your tongue or lips contact the teeth.  In addition, a balanced occlusion (or “bite”) is less likely to result in heavy forces being unevenly distributed around the mouth, meaning that general use of the teeth in chewing and functioning is dispersed among all the teeth and not directed primarily at only a few.  Cleaning your teeth is also easier when they are aligned; crowded teeth tend to pick up more plaque, food, and stain, and have areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush or floss.

Invisalign® is a way of straightening or repositioning the teeth within the jaws to correct a variety of problems.  It can be used to close spaces between teeth, correct crowding or overlapping of teeth, and create a more balanced bite.  Invisalign® or orthodontic treatment can also be used prior to other cosmetic dentistry procedures, to align the teeth first may result in a better outcome of the cosmetics.

Invisalign® treatment involves the patient wearing a series of trays that are made specifically from models of their teeth.  The Invisalign® certified dentist will take impressions of the mouth, a series of photographs, and any pertinent x-rays prior to beginning treatment.  Then, through the Invisalign software, the dentist uses digital models to create the treatment plan and determine how to move the teeth in order to accomplish the desired result.

The treatment is based on patient compliance – the trays are thin and clear, and comfortable, but they must be worn at almost all times (except eating, brushing/flossing) in order for them to work. At the completion of treatment, retainers are provided for the patient to wear in order to maintain the alignment. Failure to wear the retainers often results in relapse of the tooth position.

Misalignment/Misaligned Teeth

The lips and the cheeks need support from the teeth. For a full, beautiful smile and lips, the teeth need to be angled properly (tipped out just slightly). This will also put the nose and chin in better proportion. This young lady’s teeth are too low, giving her a “gummy” smile when she laughs. Even though he is rich, famous and handsome, his smile could be better if his arches were wider and didn’t have those dark corners. For a wide beautiful smile, the upper and lower jaws should line up correctly with the skull. They should not be too far forward or back when looking at a person’s profile and the dimensions of the upper and lower face need to be properly proportioned. Notice this in the drawings below. The center is a normal profile compared with a lower jaw that is too far forward on the right and too far back on the left.

Isn’t It Interesting What Defines A Beautiful Smile?

So when you are thinking about whether your child, or even you, may need braces to “straighten his/her teeth”, consider the total appearance and the advancements in orthodontic techniques and materials. Making these changes today is easier than ever before!

These things can be corrected most of the time with orthopedics and orthodontics. There are many important events coming up for your teen in their high school years. Make sure they have a smile they can be proud of. Call Delmarva Dental Services for more information.

Straight Talk on Crooked Teeth

Straightening your teeth is one of the best things you can do for not just your smile, but your overall health. Crooked or overlapping teeth are much harder to clean. If they are too close together, they are nearly impossible to floss. A “bad bite” can wear your teeth down and cause pain and tooth decay. So how does this affect our overall health? Studies have linked poor dental health to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and pregnancy problems. Teeth provide a direct path for bacteria and infections to enter the bloodstream and even into the marrow of our bones. Bacteria can travel from the mouth to the lungs, making lung conditions worse or causing infections such as pneumonia, especially in our older family members. Teeth that are crowded or overlapping are very difficult to clean and keep clean. All kinds of things can find safe hiding places in these hard to clean areas. If left untouched, it can lead to issues like gum disease. People with moderate or advanced gum disease are more likely to have cardiovascular or heart disease. Gum disease has also been linked to babies being born prematurely and low birth weight. Some other diseases that have been linked to gum disease are diabetes, osteoporosis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and memory problems including; arthritis, strokes, and chronic fatigue. Most cases of gum disease can be traced back to poor oral hygiene. Some of this can just be lack of care but many cases can be linked to teeth that are out of alignment. On one hand, teeth that are crowded can be very difficult to keep clean but on the other hand, teeth with spaces have areas where food can become impacted. Both cases make it harder to clean and floss which can lead to periodontal gum disease, bone loss and possible loss of teeth. The phrase “healthy mouth, healthy you” really is true. One of the easiest ways to make sure you are able to maintain a healthy mouth is to make sure your teeth are straight and in perfect alignment. Orthodontics is the key to that. Even if your teeth are just a little crowded, when you are older and your manual dexterity has diminished, it will be harder to keep them clean and straight. Teeth then will be so important to not only your dental health, but to your overall general health.

So we know it is easier to keep straight teeth clean and healthy compared to slightly crowded or misaligned teeth. When you consider getting your teeth straightened, remember, it is a lot harder to keep them clean when you have traditional braces. Therefore, you should consider a clear tray system or invisible tooth straightening system, like Invisalign®, to create a stable, long-term, healthy smile that is easier to keep clean.

Why Teeth Don’t Stay Straight After Braces

You’ve spent years in braces. Now several months after they’ve come off, you stopped wearing your retainer and you notice some crowding or spacing. You hope it doesn’t get worse, but after several more months, you notice more crowding and spacing. Was it because you didn’t wear your retainer long enough? Probably not. So why do crowding and spacing occur? It‘s because the reasons for the malocclusion were not corrected. During growth and development, there is a delicate balance between the muscles, bone, and teeth. When the mouth and face muscles don’t function normally, they cause the bone to develop abnormally. This causes crowding and or spacing of the teeth, as well as abnormalities in facial appearance. If you want straight and stable teeth, and a pleasing facial appearance, then you need to have all the involved muscles working as nature intended. There are multiple factors that cause abnormal muscle forces and therefore malocclusion. Respiratory problems such as chronically swollen tonsils and adenoids, nose polyps, a deviated septum, and allergies make it difficult to nose breath. This results in mouth breathing which prevents the tongue from exerting lateral forces on the palate. Therefore, the upper and lower jaws under develop resulting in a skinny face. Habits such as tongue thrusting, pacifier usage, thumb and finger sucking push the upper teeth and jaw forward. If the tongue is firmly bound down, (the so-called “tongue-tied” condition), it prevents the tongue from pushing against the teeth and jaw and thus restricts full development. In order to allow for proper muscle and teeth and jaw development, respiratory problems must be corrected, a restricted tongue free, and bad habits eliminated. When this is accomplished in a timely manner, your chances of a stable, straight occlusion are enhanced tremendously. At Delmarva Dental Services, our dentists can see if there is a problem developing; in most cases by the age of 6 years and in some cases earlier. This approach has many benefits. In addition to straighter teeth, it creates a fuller smile and a better facial appearance. It may even eliminate the need for braces. Most importantly, when the causes of problems are identified and corrected, the teeth have a much better chance of remaining straight after the braces are gone.

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