The dental community agrees that the health of your mouth reflects the condition of your entire body. Poor dental health often is indictive of other health problems. This is why visiting your dentist regularly can not only keep your smile looking great, but also may provide useful information as to whether or not you may be at risk for certain chronic health conditions. Research has shown that good dental health can help to prevent some diseases from occurring.
The Impact of a Healthy Mouth
There is a strong relationship between gum disease and certain health complications such as stroke and heart disease. Research shows that the majority of systemic diseases such as diabetes and certain cancers actually have oral indicators such as:
- Swollen gums;
- Mouth ulcers;
- Dry mouth; and
- Excessive gum problems.
If a patient sees their dentist for regular examinations, their dentist may be their first provider to ake note of a health problem in the early stages.
Additionally, improper oral care can lead to health problems such as:
- Tooth and facial pain;
- Heart and other major organ problems;
- Digestion problems.
Seeing your dentist regularly and taking good care of your teeth can help to keep your entire body in good health. Your dentist will also have a chance to detect other potential problems such as poor nutrition, growth and development problems, and improper jaw alignment, among other potential issues.
At home, keeping a healthy mouth should include the following:
- Brushing twice per day;
- Flossing daily;
- Eating a healthy diet;
- Avoiding cigarettes and tobacco products; and
- Visiting the dentist regularly.
Keeping a healthy mouth can help you to also help you to keep the rest of your body healthy as well. Be sure to regularly visit your dentist to help watch for any indicators of other potential health problems, and keep your dentist updated with any changes to your health.
Nowadays, patients who require braces to align their teeth have many options to choose from. Options will vary from patient to patient, depending on what their dentist recommends – but typically there are two options: metal braces or clear braces. It is important to look at the benefits of both types of braces before making a final decision on what type is preferred.
Traditional Metal Braces
These braces are made out of high-grade stainless steel, and are one of the most widely chosen options for aligning teeth. Newer designs are sleeker and smaller than their previously used counterparts. Patients can choose fun colours for the banding, which makes them popular with kids and younger dental patients. The advanced bracket systems make traditional metal braces more comfortable than ever, while still being the top choice by dentists for the alignment of many mouths. Additionally, metal braces tend to be very affordable when compared to other options.
Clear Ceramic Braces
Clear braces made of ceramic which is made the be the same colour as the tooth are intended to blend with the natural look of the patient’s teeth. This type of braces can be used for any age group, and they tend to have a fairly quick turnaround time for results. Treatment using ceramic braces may also include use of clear or white bands or wires that blend with the tooth colour. The cosmetic appeal of this braces type make them popular for adults.
Both clear ceramic braces and traditional metal braces are good options for aligning teeth. Both options are generally available for all ages of dental patient, and one may be recommended over the other. Work with your dentist to determine the best treatment plan for your mouth.
According to the Canadian Sleep Society, approximately 8 percent of adults and 13 percent of children in Canada experience teeth grinding or clenching – most often in their sleep.
Teeth grinding or clenching (often called bruxism) can be caused by a number of things:
- Disrupted Sleep;
- Misaligned teeth; and/or
Most people who clench or grind their teeth typically do not realize they are doing so.
Some signs of bruxism may include:
- Tooth Sensitivity;
- Tooth or Jaw Pain;
- A third party hearing the noise of grinding (especially at night).
When you clench or grind your teeth, a huge amount of pressure is exerted on your teeth and jaw. Continual clenching or grinding can lead to cracked, chipped, broken, or loose teeth and potential for damage to the Temporomandibular joint.
Diagnosing Clenching or Grinding
If you see a dentist regularly, they will monitor your mouth for signs of irregular wear and tear on the surfaces of the teeth. It is important to always let your dentist know if you are experiencing any unusual pain or sensitivity in your teeth, head, or neck area – this can help to diagnose bruxism early and limit damage.
If you become aware of clenching your teeth, try to make an effort to relax the jaw and stop the clenching. Stress reducing activities such as exercise may be beneficial if the bruxism is being caused by external stress. Depending on the reason for your clenching and grinding, your dentist may recommend corrective treatments for your mouth, or may want you to wear a custom fit mouth guard at night to reduce the pressure on your teeth.
While with previous generations, dental braces were a source of embarrassment for year after year of school children and teens alike, modern-day fashion has embraced and accepted them. Instead of the suppressed smiles of the past, kids with mouths full of brightly coloured metal and elastic are now becoming the envy of their peers.
A number of celebrities openly parading their own dental braces has certainly helped the look to become accepted, especially with celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cher. In the opinions of many young teenagers, getting braces has become almost a rite of passage into the teenage years.
Additionally, braces can be fun. With so many colour options, possibilities are endless. Braces wearers can get their smile done up in their home team’s colours, or to match a special outfit.
Many dentists are noticing that the trend as of late is that teens who are told they may not need braces after all tend to end up disappointed. Of course there needs to be a clinical indication towards requiring braces for dentist to suggest them for someone. As well, people are seeing the results of wearing braces and realizing that a beautiful, functional, straight smile is easily attainable with just a short while of potential discomfort.
For those who don’t want to adorn their teeth with their favourite colours, there are options for braces that are considered nearly invisible. Anyone with a clinical need can benefit from braces, and there does not need to be any drawback due to the way they look.
Having your teeth shift out of alignment can occur for a number of reasons. A simple reason may be that you sleep consistently on one side – or perhaps your grind your teeth at night while you are asleep. It’s also possible that bad dental habits can cause teeth to fall out of alignment. No matter what the cause of the shifting is, misaligned teeth can bring on more dental problems if left untreated since teeth that have shifted can be difficult to properly clean.
In order to find the right treatment for your shifting teeth, you first need to determine the cause of the shifting. You dentist can guide you through this. In order for you to get an idea while you wait to see your dental provider, here are some of the common reasons of teeth shifting.
Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding. These are very bad habits for your teeth, as they can force either your top or bottom teeth to misalign from added pressure. Some people do this in their sleep and may have no idea they are doing it.
Tooth Loss. If you lose a tooth, you should have the spot filled. Otherwise, the additional space in your mouth leaves room for the surrounding teeth to shift toward that spot to fill the gap.
Tooth Decay or Cavities. Not treating a cavity can cause the teeth to shift as the decay spreads. Also, the composite that is used to fill cavities may cause shifting – it is best to avoid cavities at all if possible.
Genetics and Age. Even if you are born with perfectly straight teeth, you may have genes that dictate the shifting of your teeth at a later age in life. Additionally, when a person grows older the natural wearing away of the areas between each tooth can cause shifting.
No matter what the cause is of the shifting of your teeth, contact your dental team for an assessment to get it taken care of. There are many solutions to shifting, and the answer for your mouth will depend on what is causing the shifting.
When finally comes the day that your braces are set to come off, you may be excited to be freed of bands and brackets – and to be able to run your tongue over your teeth and feel a smooth surface. But, don’t forget that you are not completely done with orthodontics. Most braces-wearers will require a dental retainer for use after their braces are removed. Some of those who have never had braces may also require a retainer at some point, to help keep things straight or fix minor issues.
Retention is a critical follow-through stage of orthodontics that typically involves wearing a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers exist, all of which are custom made for your mouth. Your orthodontist will recommend which type of retainer will work best for your mouth and for how long you will need to wear the retainer.
Types of Retainers
Three types of retainers are commonly prescribed for orthodontic patients:
• Hawley Retainer – a thin, tongue shapes piece of acrylic moulded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds the teeth into position. This retainer is simple, durable, and easily removed. It is possible to personalize these retainers with different colours and designs for the plastic arch – it can also be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements as they happen.
• Clear Plastic Retainer – the clear aligner type of retainer looks very similar to an Invisalign tray. These retainers are custom made of thin, transparent plastic which is designed to sit perfectly over the teeth. The main advantage to this retainer type is that it is virtually invisible, with no wire to show. These retainers are also easy to remove, but are less durable than a Hawleys retainer.
• Fixed Bonded Retainer – a fixed retainer ma be an option for some mouths, especially on the lower front teeth. These retainers are not removable by the wearer, and they are not completely invisible. The system uses a wire which is bonded to the inside of the teeth. This retainer may remain in place for months or even years.
When your braces come off, your teeth will require some sort of further orthodontic treatment through a retainer to avoid the teeth moving. Unfortunately, if nothing is used after braces the teeth will very likely start moving back into their original position prior to orthodontic care.