Seven years old? Time to book an orthodontist visit.

Your child was probably standing or walking by age 1, speaking in sentences by age 3, and starting to read by age 5 or 6. If your child has reached the age of 7, now is the time to take him or her to the orthodontist for the first time. This month is an especially apt time to set up an appointment, because April is National Oral Health month in Canada.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children should first see an orthodontist at the age of 7. Why age 7? Because it’s the age when adult molars start “erupting,” or poking through the gums. Incisors, or canine teeth also start erupting at this age. These changes can give the orthodontist a picture of how your child’s bite will develop and can predict if there will be issues like crowding, open bites or jaw misalignments. shutterstock_91921913

Your child may have also developed oral habits such as chewing on things or sucking on fingers – habits which can have an adverse affect on the development of his or her bite. The orthodontist can help your child correct these habits before they give rise to serious dental problems.

If you think taking your 7 year-old to the orthodontist is rushing things, it’s not. It’s just smart preventative medicine. The orthodontist will most likely not be recommending braces for the immediate future. But by giving an orthodontist the chance to foresee problems, he or she will have a good chance of preventing or shortening treatments that could otherwise get expensive and involved.

Keep in mind that the benefits of an attractive smile are both social and medical. On the one hand, people with nice teeth typically have more self-confidence, and they may have more options open to them in their personal and professional lives. In addition, the failure to correct an abnormal bite can result in many oral health problems, including tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, difficultly speaking and chewing, and damage to tooth enamel.

If you already take your child to the dentist for regularly check-ups, that’s a great first step for caring for their oral health. General dentists can do an excellent job of caring for someone’s overall oral health. Orthodontists, on the other hand, are specialists. They have spent an extra 2 or 3 years studying their specialty after completing dental school. In addition to more education, they also have more experience making sure teeth grow in properly and know how to straighten them when they don’t. That’s all an orthodontist does every day.

If it turns out your child does need braces one day, also remember that braces keep improving. They are more lightweight than when you were an adolescent with plenty of different treatment options. It will almost make you wish you could be 7 years old again.



Mom and Dad (and Grandma and Grandpa) Are Getting Braces Too

Although orthodontists will say that no one is ever too old to wear braces, for most of us, it is surprising to learn that actor Danny Glover started wearing braces at age 59. Actress Faye Dunaway was age 61 when she began 18 months of treatment. Dunaway said that she was inspired by Tom Cruise, who at age 40 showed off his ceramic braces in 2002.

Today, more than one million adults in America wear braces. Statistics from the American Association of Orthodontists show this reflects a 58 percent increase in the number of adults (defined here as people over the age of 18) in orthodontic treatment, while the number of children and teenagers increased only 15 percent during that same period (1994-2010).

Advances in orthodontics are one of the primary reasons that so many adult patients seek treatment. Options today include clear removable aligners (Invisalign), tooth-colored ceramic braces, lingual braces that fit on the tongue side of the teeth, and veneers, which are wafer-thin shells of porcelain bonded to the front side of teeth. Even when metal braces are recommended, they are much smaller than those used 15 years ago.

Some adults choose to get braces at the same time their children do to correct similar problems: crowded or crooked teeth, overbites and underbites, and misaligned jaws. Such problems can create oral health issues, and it’s not only movie stars who want to have pretty smiles. One lawyer who chose to get his teeth straightened said he wanted juries to pay attention to the words coming out of this mouth and not to his crooked teeth.

If you are an adult considering orthodontic treatment, PacificWest Dental Group offers a complimentary consultation, where we will assess your needs and explain your treatment options.

The Benefits of Using BC Head Pain for TMJ Treatment

Smiling Woman

The BC Head Pain Institute’s system for TMJ treatment can make a real difference for people suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ. This disorder, which affects many people, causes chronic pain including headaches and jaw problems.

TMJ strikes when the temporomandibular joint is not functioning properly. BC Head Pain Institute addresses this by taking clear, accurate measurements of your specific anatomy, uncovering the physical problems that are causing you pain. Treatment at BC Head Pain Institute also includes a detailed history of headaches and migraines, a muscle exam, a head health questionnaire and a bite force analysis, giving your dentist better insight into your particular condition. This means that therapy for TMJ treatment is truly custom built for you.

The revolutionary system uses treatments like therapeutic ultrasound and manual manipulation of the muscles to release tension. Your dentist may use electro-current or low-level laser technology to treat your specific pain, all of which is safe and effective. Treatments are short and painless. You will spend less than an hour undergoing each treatment, which is non-invasive and does not require any medication.

Because treatment is so minimally invasive, this treatment does not carry the risky side effects you may find in more complex treatments, like surgery. TMJ can often be treated without surgery, if the problem is accurately diagnosed and the causes are explored. You will experience a reduction in pain without having to worry about costly, agonizing treatments that cut into the quality of your life.

BC Head Pain Institute’s treatment is a holistic approach, taking a look at the wider picture of your whole-body health. If you are committed to dealing with your TMJ symptoms but do not want to subject yourself to unnecessary treatment interventions, consider the this revolutionary system – none of the pain, but all of the benefits.

Top Reasons to See An Orthodontist for TMJ

jaw painSo what is TMJ and what are the causes of TMJ?

TMJ and its related muscle disorders are a set of conditions causing dysfunction and pain in the jaw, specifically the temporomandibular joint. TMJ can present as malfunctions in bite and jaw alignment that cause an array of conditions including:

  • Jaw pain and discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Loss of sleep
  • Ear aches and ringing sounds
  • Limited jaw movements
  • Worn out teeth
  • Locking of the jaw

If you have TMJ, you’re not alone. Jaw trauma has been pointed out as the most common cause of TMJ, but it’s also quite possible that stress, anxiety, and poor dental health contribute to TMJ. Clenching the jaw or grinding your teeth will also exacerbate the problem. Even if you only experience occasional bouts of TMJ pain or discomfort, the symptoms warrant a visit to an orthodontist.

A Problem That Grows Worse

At first, you may only experience TMJ symptoms occasionally, with discomfort occurring in cycles in the form of headaches, ear aches, or some tenderness in the jaw area. Others, however, develop long term symptoms that if left untreated, could lead to more serious health issues.

TMJ can leave permanent nerve damage in the jaw area, which could lead to limited jaw mobility thus affecting chewing motion. For those experiencing substantial TMJ pain, sleeping difficulties and discomfort can have long term health effects. And if you suffer from TMJ, it’s likely that the symptoms themselves will contribute to increased tension and pain.

If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms and still unsure about your condition, consult an orthodontist for a proper diagnosis. There are several options for TMJ treatment through orthodontics. Ask your orthodontist and get relief.

The Advantages of Invisalign Over Braces

Invisalign bracesWhen it comes to straightening your teeth, both Invisalign and braces will do the trick. What you may not realize is Invisalign has a lot of other advantages when compared to braces. These advantages extend well past the aesthetic benefits that most people think of when it comes to Invisalign.

Less Likely to Irritate Gums and Tongue 

Brackets on traditional braces can rub against the gums and tongue, leading to irritation. Brace wearers typically have to put wax around the brackets to stop the irritation from occurring, but it is difficult to keep the wax in place. On the other hand, Invisalign is made of smooth plastic that does not irritate the gums. Because of that, Invisalign is more comfortable than braces.

Eat Whatever You Want 

If you wear braces, you have an entire list of foods that you have to avoid. You can’t eat hard, sticky, or chewy foods, since those foods can break the brackets on the braces.

On the other hand, you can eat anything you want with Invisalign. That’s because you can take Invisalign out whenever you want. Simply remove it, eat the food you want to eat, and then put your Invisalign back in your mouth after the meal.

Brush and Floss Normally 

You have probably heard horror stories of people who have terrible stains on their teeth after having their braces removed. That’s because the braces covered a big portion of their teeth, so they couldn’t brush properly. They also couldn’t floss because the brackets were in the way. When you wear an Invisalign, you can simply remove it and take care of your dental needs. Then, you can put it back in so it can get back to work on straightening your teeth.

Thanks to all of the benefits, more and more people are choosing Invisalign over braces. From comfort to ease of use, Invisalign wins out in category after category.

How Dental Treatments Can Help Relieve Headaches and Migraines

Woman SmilingEver wondered whether the pain in your head might be caused by the teeth in your head? It turns out that a lot of sufferers of headaches and migraines are experiencing the ill effects of a misaligned jaw. While this might come as a surprise, you can probably quickly figure out just why the jaw and teeth have an effect on comfort in your head. Here are some modern dental techniques being used today for headaches and migraines.

Dental Stress 

Tension headaches are often caused at least partially by the tension in the jaw. You may be grinding your teeth or simple clenching your jaw without realizing it. Many people do this during the day while they sit at the computer or at night while they sleep. Dental treatments exist that can help you to become more aware of how you hold you jaw both during the day and at night. For people who suffer from TMJ or tension headaches due to grinding teeth in their sleep, a custom mouth guard may be the solution. Ask about other options that may be available to you from your dentist.

Muscular Imbalance 

Your head is a heavy thing to carry around all the time. There are a considerable number of muscles, joints, and bones that keep your head sitting up straight. But if one or more muscles becomes tired, sore, or overly tense, the whole system can be thrown off balance. The muscles in the jaw can have an effect on the balance of your head, causing the problem to worsen and cause pain.

Talk to your dentist about any symptoms you feel that don’t seem connected to your headaches. There are ways that the jaw and head work together which can cause discomfort and pain which you may not realize are connected. Fortunately, your dentist has probably seen something like this before and can help you to reduce headaches or migraines through dental treatments.

Candy and Braces: What Treats are Safe to Eat?

Eating TreatsIt’s that time of year when candy is almost impossible to avoid. But if you or your child has braces, you know that this is sticky territory, quite literally. Avoiding candy is a good plan, but it’s going to be hard right now. If you are going to indulge, just make sure you avoid the real dangers and stick to things that won’t make you regret your sweet treats.

There are some candies that are obviously going to cause trouble, and you should use common sense when considering whether or not to eat certain candy if you have braces. Below are some recommendations, but this is not even close to a complete list. If you’re every unsure, just avoid it. You’re truly better off safe than sorry.

Soft, Melty Candy 

The rule of thumb for people with braces is to only eat candy that’s soft or melty. That means candies like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and 3 Musketeers Bars are okay. Plain chocolate is also okay, as well as anything that just melts on your tongue.

Dangerous Candies and Rules of Thumb 

The candy bars that will get you into trouble are sticky or gooey. Anything with nougat or caramel will be incredibly hard to eat and will cause problems with braces. Babe Ruth bars, Charleston Chews, Butterfingers, Smarties, Tootsie Rolls, and other chewy candies are a bad idea. Also avoid anything with a hard shell, such as Skittles and M&Ms.

You’re better off avoiding sugar entirely, as you probably know. But if you must indulge, be careful about what you eat this year. In the future, when your braces are off, you’ll be able to enjoy those chewy, gooey candies again. For now, take a break.

And always brush your teeth to avoid problems with cavities due to sugar!

Happy Halloween!

How To Choose An Orthodontist in Vancouver

orthodontist smilingWhen it comes to choosing an orthodontist in Vancouver, the choices can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start and to know which criteria to use in narrowing down your search. There are, however, a few key questions to ask and traits to look for that can make the process much easier.

What Type of Practice?

First, determine what kind of practice you’re looking for. Do you need braces for children? Are you dealing with common problems like crooked teeth or an over or under bite, or do you need someone who performs more specialized procedures like surgical orthodontics, or an orthodontist with experience treating sleep apnea or TMJ? Some orthodontic practices in Vancouver will perform emergency orthodontics and others are not set up to do so.

Experience, Experience, Experience

Aside from looking at customer testimonials and online reviews, it’s a good idea to find out how long the practice has been open in Vancouver and how experienced its orthodontists are. The more experience they have, the more likely they are to diagnose and treat a problem correctly the first time, saving time, emotional distress, and money. Find out the credentials of the practitioners you’re considering. Make sure that they have the best training possible. If it’s a practice with multiple orthodontists, find out if you will see the same one consistently, or if they share patients. In Vancouver, we’re lucky enough to have so many options that it’s worth taking the time to find the best for you.

Use Your Intuition

Finally, it’s good to meet the orthodontists who you’re considering. After all, you’re entrusting your or your children’s smiles to a stranger. Find someone who is passionate about what they do, and someone who recognizes how the way our smile looks ultimately affects our confidence.

How Braces Work to Straighten Your Teeth

braces_closeupBraces aren’t just a brute force solution to crooked teeth. They work by using the anatomy of the jaw to re-align teeth in a healthy and natural way. The teeth in your mouth are attached to your jaw bone by something called a periodontal ligament. This ligament is made up of collagen, which is the same protein found between your bones, and is used for shock absorption between bones all over your body including your jaw. Your periodontal ligaments allow some small, natural movement of your teeth (when chewing, for example) while anchoring and suspending the teeth in place. These ligaments join to the root surfaces of your teeth via a connective substance created by your body called cementum.

Braces work by tensioning one side of the ligaments in your teeth at the same time as stretching and compressing the ligaments on the other side of your teeth. Orthodontists call this type of tension ‘force’, and only a small amount is applied at a time. As your body detects the tension placed on the ligaments, bone-creating cells called osteoblasts start adding new bone to cement the teeth in place. This process is called deposition. On the side of your mouth where the ligaments are de-tensioned and compressed, bone-eating cells called osteoclasts begin to remove bone in a process called resorption. This whole process is how your teeth move over time. It’s easy to see how gradual light forces such as chewing habits and grinding your teeth can have big impacts in the long run!

The reason your orthodontist makes a cast of your teeth throughout treatment is to diagnose your dental alignment and come up with the best plan to carefully manipulate forces against your teeth to guide them into new, healthful alignment. The wires in your orthodontic appliance are designed to apply controlled forces, moving your teeth in a predictable manner and managing bone resorption and deposition.

Choosing TruDenta for TMJ and Pain Management

asianlady1The human body is an interconnected web of nerves and muscles. Misalignment, misuse, or injury of one part of the body can have serious consequences in other areas, often in ways that aren’t obvious. This holds true when it comes to chronic head and neck pain.

The National Institutes of Health reports that between 15 and 45 million Americans exhibit some form of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), a pain caused by problems in the jaw and surrounding facial muscles. Meanwhile the National Headache Foundation has found that over 45 million Americans suffer from recurring headaches.

Research suggests that as many as 80 percent of tension headaches and migraines are the result of dental force related problems. Perhaps because this pain is so common, many dental patients do not report their head or jaw pain to their dentist or primary physician.

TruDenta is a comprehensive assessment and treatment technology that measures the forces of the mouth’s muscles, tendons, nerves, teeth, and joints in order to locate imbalances and treat chronic symptoms such as migraine headaches and TMJ, which are considered a result of these unequal forces acting on the jaw, head, and neck.

The TruDenta treatment system is used over 8-12 therapy sessions. Each patient receives a home care kit with special instructions for home therapy routines they can perform to make the treatment program successful.  Each patient is also fitted for a rehabilitative orthotic to be worn nightly throughout the entire course of treatment. If the patient is compliant with the treatment and performs their home therapies, within a 10 to 12 week period, dentists are able to restore the proper balance to a patient’s dental force and provide relief to their chronic ongoing pain. Patients return once a month, or as necessary, for maintenance therapy.

If you suffer from pain, you know how valuable relief can be. TruDenta offers relief.  Pacific West Dental Group provides TruDenta services in their Surrey and Vancouver, BC orthodontic offices.