When patients come to our office for their first orthodontic assessment, we’re often asked, “How did my teeth get crooked to begin with?” Teeth erupt crookedly for a number of reasons, ranging from genetics to mouth deformities and serious oral diseases.
When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crookedness or misplacement), the culprit is usually genetic in nature. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to accommodate a full set of teeth, and misaligned jaws that did not form properly in vitro.
Can crooked teeth be prevented?
In most cases, underbites, overbites, and crooked teeth are genetic and can’t be avoided. Orthodontic treatment with braces will be necessary to correct the condition once your child is old enough to wear them. However, certain early childhood behaviours that may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth can be avoided. These include:
- Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting
- Losing baby teeth to decay before permanent teeth have naturally pushed them out of their sockets.
- Allowing pacifier use to continue after front teeth have erupted
Permanent teeth below baby teeth are directly affected by the health of the baby teeth. If baby teeth are prematurely lost due to decay or trauma, permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward.
Baby teeth are like anchors for permanent teeth; they help guide them when they erupt through the gums. In addition, taking excellent care of baby teeth is vital to having healthy permanent teeth free of discoloration or decay.
Harmful oral bacteria can spread into the gums and reach down to permanent teeth that are still buried in the gums. Once attached to a tooth’s enamel, bacteria will begin eroding the tooth even before it has a chance to take its first bite!
When to Start Orthodontic Treatment for Crooked Teeth
The American Association of Orthodontists suggests, as do we, that parents take their child to an orthodontist around age seven to rule out potential issues with permanent teeth eruption. If problems are discovered, it is not unusual to begin orthodontic treatment at that age.
In fact, specific conditions such as crowding and gaps between teeth are easier to correct at an early age. Early treatment also benefits from the growth process of the jaw, which helps move teeth to normal positions.
If you have questions about your child’s teeth, simply schedule an appointment! We’re here to make sure your child grows up with a beautiful, straight, and most importantly, healthy smile.
Let’s face it – wearing braces is tough. If you didn’t like to floss or brush when you didn’t have braces, it’s going to be even tougher with braces. But as we’ve mentioned before about flossing and brushing, it is important to your oral hygiene. We’re going to emphasize again that without proper oral hygiene habits, you risk tooth decay which can impact your oral health in the future. In the short term, your teeth might be a mix of yellow and white, especially when your braces come off!
Learn Proper Brushing Techniques
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums in order to clean the whole tooth, and brush gently in the area between the wiring and the teeth. Use a softer toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste for best results. Using an oral rinse every day will help, too. Rinsing with mouthwash is important regardless, but especially important when you have braces, as you need to disinfect the entire mouth, including those spots under the braces where your brush can’t always reach.
Brush after Every Meal
Since braces block food from naturally escaping your teeth after eating, it’s important that you take the time to brush and floss after every meal. The less time food has to sit on your teeth, the less likely it is to cause decay. This may seem like an inconvenience, but when you get your braces off, you will be very glad you brushed after every meal.
Eat Braces-Safe Foods
When you have braces, there are certain foods that you must avoid (read our post here). For starters, sticky foods such as caramel or gum can get stuck in your braces and are difficult to remove during brushing. Avoid hard foods, too, such as nuts and candy. Those goodies can bend wires or even break a bracket. And while you may love apples, carrots, or corn on the cob, they’re too firm or hard to bite into and can damage your braces. Crunchy treats can also harm your orthodontic appliances. It’s best to stay away from chips and popcorn, which can damage your braces. So just what can you eat? We recommend soft foods that are low in enamel-busting acids, such as bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta.
Get Regular Checkups
It’s important to keep your routine appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning twice a year or as directed. The exact frequency of these visits will be up to your dentist, as some types of braces are more demanding of a regular cleaning than others.
As long as you practice good oral hygiene and follow these basic tips, you should have no problem keeping your teeth healthy while you wear braces.
Have you always wanted that perfect smile but kept putting it off because you thought it was not possible? Perhaps you are missing teeth or have such crooked teeth that you don’t know where to start? Or your gums are in bad shape and your teeth may not last that much longer? Or you simply have a “little problem” but your present dentist has not been able to find the right solution for you?
We’re happy to share the story of Ellen with you, and illustrate how our comprehensive approach to your dental issues will be addressed.
Ellen is a 48 year old mother of 2 grown children who received all the dental and orthodontic care they needed over the years. She’s always been “too busy” to really take care of her own smile, but now she’s being told that her teeth have deteriorated to the point where if she doesn’t do something drastic, she will begin losing her teeth and have to wear dentures.
She never really liked her smile because her teeth are slightly crooked and some teeth are missing from childhood extractions due to cavities and crowding. Growing up, she rarely smiled and often tried to hide her teeth in social situation because she was embarrassed by them. She feared dentists from bad experiences as a child, and now the prospect of losing all her teeth and ending up with dentures like her parents scared her even more. She just didn’t know what to do!
Ellen began to explore her options by visiting a couple of dentists. She received the same response every time: that she will need to see several different dental specialists but no one could give a clear picture of what she actually needed. In addition, she was not given an estimate of the amount of time it might take and an overall cost. What is even more frustrating is the fact that when she tried to make the appointments with the specialists, she found that some are very far away, or do not have appointments available for several months.
Ellen attended a family wedding that summer and sat next to her old friend Debby that she had not seen in over a decade. When Ellen saw Debby, she thought to herself “Wow, Debby has really aged well! She looks so radiant – look at that smile!”
Ellen thought back to their time together in their twenties and realized that Debby’s smile definitely didn’t look as good back then. By the end of dinner, Ellen finally asked Debby about her teeth. “How did you get that beautiful smile?”
Debby told her that she has been going to PacificWest Dental Group for the past five years for comprehensive treatment, after not having seen a dentist for over 15 years. The group of dentists there were able to transform her “hopeless” case into a smile that she is proud to show off! Everything was done in one place and all her appointments were arranged for her in a timely matter, at her convenience. Now she has the smile that she always wanted and never thought was possible.
Ellen decided then and there that she had to find out if this was possible for herself. She made a phone call the next day and was able to book a smile assessment for the following week. To her great relief, Ellen found out from Dr. Wang that complex cases like her own was exactly why PacificWest Dental Group was created to address.
Working as a team, each of the dental specialists were able to thoroughly diagnose all her problems, and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that addressed her specific needs. What she was most impressed with was the way each doctor was able to explain to her, in easy to understand language, the solution to her problems. Even though her own case was very complex and required treatment from multiple doctors, all her needs were met in one place; there was no running around, and everything was accomplished in a timely manner at the highest level of care.
Over the next several months, Ellen was able to undergo several procedures to restore the health of her gums, correct the alignment of her teeth, remove the ugly staining, and start the process of replacing her missing teeth.
Now that she has the smile she always wanted, she is excited to be in front of the camera, and smiles radiantly at all social situations. Ellen’s long lost confidence was restored and now looks forward to smiling every day!
At PacificWest Dental, we have a team of dental specialists that can provide a broad range of advanced specialized care to tackle your specific complex problem. Our comprehensive care team include orthodontists to straighten your teeth, periodontist to take care of any gum problems, oral surgeon to surgically correct any functional or cosmetic dental or facial changes, and prosthodontist to replace any missing teeth. You can take advantage of our expertise to achieve the smile that you want with confidence.
Whether you are a foodie or just like enjoying the diverse foods we have on the Westcoast, having braces sometimes impacts what you are able to eat. While we know there are people who still eat anything when they have braces, we advise to follow some general guidelines to make your braces treatment process as easy as possible.
First off, always make sure you brush and floss your teeth regularly. The last thing you want is to have your braces taken off but your teeth have numerous cavities. Plaque is never your best friend, so it is important to maintain top oral hygiene. We’ve talked about brushing and flossing before, so feel free to check out those blog posts.
Now in terms of food, the best way to ensure your comfort during orthodontic treatment is to eat a braces-friendly diet. Certain foods are better suited for the purpose, as opposed to hard and sticky foods that can cause damage. So what types of foods should you eat if you have braces?
The best are low in sugar and do not require excessive chewing. For breakfast, try eggs, yogurt, wheat toast, or oatmeal. Lunch may steer toward a banana rather than an apple, a salad without nuts, and string cheese instead of chips.
A healthy dinner might include most types of vegetables, as long as they are cooked to an appropriate softness. Pair that with a lean protein such as fish or chicken, and follow up with dessert. Just be sure to brush afterward!
If you’ve just had your braces tightened, you’re probably feeling a bit of discomfort. That’s completely normal and should disappear in a day or so, but in the meantime, you’ll want to stick to easy-to-chew foods. Some of our favourites include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
Foods to Avoid
Anyone who wears braces—whether fixed or removable—should avoid excessive snacking and aim to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It’s also important to avoid foods that could cause damage to your braces, including:
- Hard candies
Hard, crunchy, or chewy foods can bend wires, or even rip a bracket right off your tooth! Any kind of damage will result in a longer treatment time and additional office visits. You won’t have braces forever, so save the sticky snacking for after they’re removed.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!
Let’s be honest, brushing teeth is no one’s favourite activity, especially when braces are involved. However, oral hygiene is very important to maintain because it can make your health much worse as you get older. We don’t want that to happen to anyone, so we want to share some tips when it comes to brushing your teeth and making sure your teeth actually get clean!
Top mistakes people make when brushing:
- Brush too quickly: Most people have between 24 to 28 teeth in erupted in their mouth. Each tooth has at least three surfaces exposed to be brushed (cheek side, biting side, tongue side), and each surface needs to be brushed at least 6 times. That is between 72 to 84 surfaces, and up to 500 strokes each time you brush your teeth! That is why the Canadian Dental Association recommends spending at least 2 minutes each time you brush your teeth!
- Not brushing around the gum: This area is the most commonly missed area and the result is devastating! The gum does not stick tightly unto the tooth surface; instead, there is a rim of pocket between your gum and your tooth. If you do not aim the brush properly to brush into the gum, you will have gingivitis (bleeding gums), which will turn into periodontitis (bone loss) if it’s left untreated for extended period of time. Eventually, you may have so much bone loss that the tooth just fall out on its own!
- Not brushing your teeth at 45 angle: Angle your toothbrush this way allows you to get the brush bristles in between tooth surfaces, braces, and underneath the gum. Your braces have a lot of tiny crevices to accumulate plaque, so remember to brush thoroughly to get your teeth as clean as possible
- Not brushing the inside portion of your teeth: Just because they can’t be seen by others, doesn’t mean plaque doesn’t live there
- Not changing your toothbrush regularly: Once your toothbrush starts looking like it’s been used too much (the bristles are no longer straight) or it’s been 3 months, it’s time to change your toothbrush. If your toothbrush gets worn out before then, you may be brushing too hard!
- Brushing too hard: You do not need to scrub your teeth like scrubbing a dirty frying pan to clean them. Brushing too hard will not only harm your gum (recessions), but will actually damage your tooth surface also!
There are also electronic toothbrushes available for those who feel like they can’t get a good enough clean with a conventional toothbrush. An electronic toothbrush provides consistent spins of the bristle at a high frequency, hence greatly increase the efficiency of the process of brushing. However, the brush can only cleans where you place it at, so the concept of angling the toothbrush still applies.
When you go for your regular braces appointments, take the opportunity to get a really good clean of your teeth when your wires come off. During this time, it will be the easiest to clean your teeth because you have less obstructions.
A strong daily oral hygiene habits crucial! We know that it can be hard at the beginning, but we can assure you that with some good tips and practice, everybody will be able to master the skills of brushing and flossing, and get your teeth squeaky clean 😀
Myth: Braces are bulky and painful
Fact: With continuous developments in orthodontic technology, the size of braces has been greatly reduced. In addition, the smaller size provides better aesthetics and also makes it easier for patients to keep their teeth clean. The wires that are now used give patients a gentle yet effective treatment experience as well. After an adjustment appointment, braces become more comfortable – just like when you buy a new pair of shoes and you have to break them in!
Myth: Kids should be seen by an orthodontist only after they get all their adult teeth
Fact: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children to have a consultation with a Certified Orthodontist Specialist by the age of seven. Although most children will grow healthily without the need of early orthodontic intervention, some children experience dental problems that should be addressed at an early age, to prevent the situation from getting worse. These problems may not be obvious and will require an assessment to determine the best course of action.
Myth: Braces will ruin my lifestyle and prevent me from doing the things I love
Fact: You can do almost anything during orthodontic treatment – sing, play musical instruments, play sports, etc. You may have to adjust to doing these activities with braces such as wearing a mouth guard when playing a sport, but you will be able to still enjoy these activities.