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.

Relief for Head and Neck Pain, Including TMJ

TMJMost people associate the orthodontist with issues that are largely cosmetic: adjusting overbites or under bites, all different kinds of braces for straightening the teeth and making our smiles beautiful. But orthodontists like those at the Pacific West Dental Group can actually address problems that you may not associate with your beautiful smile at all. Orthodontics can help treat head pain, neck pain and other discomforts associated with TMJ.

What is TMJ?

TMJ, or the temporo-mandibular joint, is a part of the body that we exercise every time we chew or yawn or talk, and most of us pay it no attention. Yet, when the cartilage disc that causes pressure and stretching of the associated sensory nerves is displaced, pain and discomfort is the result.

Some people will hear a clicking sound, some will have ear pain, and many will have frequent head and neck aches. For some, the pain will be searing every time they talk or chew, and for others it will be a low grade, but constant pain.

The pain can be felt in the temple, the teeth, the jaw, and even down into the neck. These kinds of problems, even if minor, can begin to affect our quality of life. When we are in pain, we are tense and we do not function to our highest potential.

Orthodontics Has Solutions

Orthodontists are able to address this problem of the jaw. Even jaw specialists will usually refer patients with TMJ disorders to see an orthodontist. Orthodontists can help determine a customized solution, like a mouth guard, or surgery if necessary. Each patient and their case will be different and benefit from a consultation with an orthodontist. Don’t wait to get treatment. Many people live for years with TMJ and neck and head pain, when simple solutions are within easy reach

Different Types of Braces Available from a Vancouver Orthodontist

older gentleman wearing bracesMany people would love to have straight teeth, but are not sure what types of braces are best for them personally. There are a few different options for braces that are common, effective and safe. Each type can be the best choice for someone, while not ideal for someone else. Talk to your Vancouver orthodontist about your options and what will be best for you.

Bracket Braces

Metal bracket braces are the type of braces most people are familiar with. They attach to each tooth with stainless steel brackets, connected by wiring. They’re lightweight and reasonably comfortable.

Gold braces are an alternative of the same kind of braces, which have been treated with a gold coloring for a different look.

Ceramic braces are also bracket braces, but they are much less visible on the teeth. Ceramic braces are clear in color and are often used on adult patients who want to have less noticeable braces. Ceramic is very strong, but also brittle. It’s easier to break ceramic, so wearers have to be a bit more careful with them.

Lingual braces are a lot like other bracket braces, but are on the inside of the teeth, so are less visible. They’re also molded to fit the wearer’s teeth, so they can be comfortable.

Invisible Orthodontic Appliances

Invisible orthodontic appliances straighten the teeth using a series of invisible and removable aligners that look like a clear retainer. One common brand is Invisalign. These are very popular because they’re so subtle. Plus, they can be removed for eating and brushing teeth. However, the wearer is responsible for wearing them at least 22 hours per day.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are similar to bracket braces, but use different materials and are designed to fit the mouth of the patient. They’re one of the most technologically advanced options, but tend to come with a price-tag to match.

Call us today to schedule your free orthodontist consultation in our Vancouver office and see how PacificWest Dental Group can help you get the straight teeth you’ve always wanted.  We’ll help you choose the braces that are right for you.

Benefits of TruDenta

Headache sufferer who could benefit from TrudentaTruDenta is a system for diagnosing, treating, and managing force imbalances in the mouth. That is the technical definition. You probably want to know what kind of benefits you will receive if TruDenta corrects your force imbalance. Benefits fall into two categories. First, you have quality of life benefits, and second, you have cosmetic benefits.

Quality of Life Benefits

TruDenta improves patients’ quality of life by alleviating:

  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Neck pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Vertigo
  • TMJ/D
  • Tinnitus
  • Shoulder pain
  • Snoring

If you suffer from any of these ailments, you know how devastating they can be to your quality of life. For instance, if you suffer from chronic headaches, it can be difficult to make plans, since you never know when a headache will come on. If you are out and you do end up with a headache, it is impossible to enjoy your friends and family. Getting rid of the headaches would help you improve your quality of life. The same is true for the other symptoms. Once they are gone, you can begin enjoying life again.

Cosmetic Benefits

TruDenta also reduces, or in some cases eliminates, clenching and grinding. People who clench and grind their teeth often have chipped, worn down teeth. That can affect your smile and your confidence. Once you stop the grinding and clenching, you will have more confidence. That means you will enjoy smiling again. You will also have more free time since you won’t have to go to the dentist every time you chip a tooth.

At one time, people thought they had to live with and suffer through their symptoms. Now, people are realizing that isn’t the case. Whether they suffer from headaches, neck pain, snoring or another symptom, they can benefit from the TruDenta process. Then, they can get their lives back on track and look great in the process.

A Friendly, International Orthodontic Practice Can Cater to Your Needs

International-Orthodontic-PracticeVancouver is an increasingly multi-cultural place. As more people from other countries come to Vancouver and the demographics become more and more varied, you can be sure that the number of languages you hear spoken rises and our city will benefit from the variety of cultural traditions that are shared and in evidence. Why does it matter when it comes to visiting an orthodontist? If English isn’t your first language and you’re not sure about what your they are talking about, you aren’t getting the best care possible.

Dental Language is Also a Foreign Language

While individuals who have grown up going to English speaking dentists will understand the terminology, it’s not automatically easy to understand what dentists and orthodontists are talking about. And when you learn English as a foreign language, you don’t necessarily get a lesson in how to talk to the orthodontist. If you’re not sure what the orthodontist is talking about, you may not be able to best care for your oral health or get the right care.

Cultural Considerations

In addition to language considerations, there are also cultural considerations to take into account. Not everyone wants to have their mouth examined and for some refugees or newly arrived immigrants, having a dentist poke around in their mouth can be embarrassing and confusing. Women may not want a male orthodontist to look in their mouths. There are things that not everyone will consider, unless they understand the cultural background of their patients.

If you’re new to Vancouver and looking for an orthodontist, it’s a great idea to find someone who can cater to your cultural needs and can even speak your language. That way you’ll know that you’re getting the right dental care and you’ll understand what’s going on at all times. At PacificWest Dental Group we are pleased to offer that kind of personalized and insightful care for our patients.

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer after Orthodontic Treatment

Wear Your Retainer After BracesAt the point when you’re required to wear a retainer, the success of your orthodontic treatment is at it’s most vulnerable. Retainers are removable, and that means that if they’re uncomfortable or if the patient doesn’t make a habit of wearing it, it’s easy for time to pass and all that hard work creating a great smile will be for nothing. Don’t risk having to go back for more work or have the results of your orthodontic treatment be a less than perfect smile. Use your retainer consistently and just as your dentist or orthodontist instructs you to.

The Role of a Retainer

 It may seem obvious, but a retainer’s role is not that different from braces. A retainer can be made of formed plastic that is shaped to the soft palette, finished with metal wires that hold the teeth in place. A retainer can also be more like a mouth guard, but much thinner and almost invisible. Retainers are personalized and customized so that they fit your mouth and encourage your teeth to move or stay in place as you want them to.

Inconsistency will Cause Problems

 If you don’t use your retainer as instructed by your dentist or orthodontist, you risk losing the smile you’re hoping for. Our teeth are not firmly set in place, which should be obvious based on the way that an orthodontist can help move them so they look the way you want them to. But just because you’ve moved them in the direction you’d like them to go, doesn’t mean they’re going to stay there just yet.

This is why retainers are used. Your dentist or orthodontist has determined that you need to wear a retainer in order to get that perfect smile. Be consistent and wear it as directed and you’ll get there.

Benefits of the Patient Reward Program from PacificWest Dental Group

Dentist-Shots-4-Laurie-02Have you ever heard of a dentist that offers a rewards program? At PacificWest Dental Group, we’re glad to offer something that most other dentists don’t: opportunities to incentivize the maintenance of your dental health. Our reward program is designed to keep all of our patients happy, even those patients who are afraid of the dentist and our younger patients.

Joining the Patient Rewards Program is great for adults and kids alike. Here are a few of the benefits.

Earn Points Towards Rewards

Maybe the idea is obvious, but we want to reward our patients for taking good care of their teeth. When you sign up for the program, you’ll automatically get points. Each time you complete certain tasks – like taking a trip to the dentist for cleanings and check-ups – you’ll accumulate more points.

What You Get

For our adult patients, the best rewards come in the form of prizes. You can redeem points for prizes and gift cards from many major brands including McDonald’s, Subway, Sports Authority, Apple, Old Navy, and Starbucks, among many others.

We also offer access to many fun games online, as well as contests for even more prizes! Many of the games are fun for adults, but we also have a selection of games just for kids. Our kids games help encourage little ones to get excited about going to the dentist. By getting your kids involved in the Rewards Program, you’ll be teaching them to feel good about regular dental visits, something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Find Out More

The PacificWest Dental Patient Reward Program was designed to help everyone stay on top of their dental health. It’s easy to get busy and to skip dental visits when you’re not experiencing dental pain. But those regular visits are all about avoiding bigger problems. You can make it a bit more fun and benefit from taking good care of your teeth by joining the Patient Reward Program.

Proper Care and Cleaning of Braces

Dentist-Shots-4-Laurie-01 Taking care of your braces isn’t just a good idea for dental hygiene reasons. It’s also important for your comfort. Food stuck in braces can cause pain or discomfort, not to mention increase the likelihood of decay. Of course brushing and flossing is much harder with braces than without. You may not always have a toothbrush handy after a meal. But it is critical that you learn how to properly care for your braces and your teeth so that when those braces come off, you’ll have the straight, pearly whites you were hoping for!

Tips for Brushing with Braces

If you don’t have a toothbrush after a meal, rinse thoroughly with water. Soft bristles are best and you should brush after every meal if possible. The hardest thing about brushing with braces is that it’s going to take some time if you do a thorough job. Once you get into the habit of brushing thoroughly, it’ll get easier. Remember these pointers:

  • Don’t use a lot of toothpaste
  • Don’t wet the brush
  • Carefully brush each arch separately and spend about 10 seconds on each tooth
  • On lower teeth, brush upwards
  • On upper teeth, brush downwards
  • For hard-to-reach places you can purchase special brushes to get between tight spots

Tips for Flossing with Braces

When you have braces, it may seem like flossing will be impossible. But that is not the case, and flossing is still very important. You’ll need to floss between teeth and around your braces. If you have the time, it’s not a big deal, so make sure you give yourself enough time for a thorough job.

  • Use unwaxed floss
  • Pull the floss under the wire that is strung between the two braces on the teeth, so you have access to the space between your teeth
  • Floss around the braces on either side
  • Floss around the gums

For more information about cleaning braces, get in touch with PacificWest Dental in Vancouver and Surrey, BC.