Gregory B. Garrett, DDS's Wilmington NC dental office is pleased to provide professional quality dental treatment to patients in Wilmington NC, Hampstead, Murraysville, Myrtle Grove, Carolina Beach and the surrounging communities. We offer general, family, children's, cosmetic, adult and senior dentistry services for our patients.
Braces and orthodontic treatment are used to correct “bad bites,” or malocclusion (teeth that are crowded or crooked). In some cases your teeth may be straight, but your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly. These jaw or tooth alignment problems may be inherited or could result from injury, early or late tooth loss, or thumbsucking.
If you have an abnormal bite your dentist may recommend braces or another orthodontic treatment to straighten out your smile. Correcting the problem can create a nice-looking smile, but more importantly, orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth. Not correcting an abnormal bite could result in further oral health problems, including:
affected speech and/or chewing
abnormal wear to tooth enamel
Straightening your teeth can be accomplished in different ways. The kind of orthodontic treatment you have will depend on your preference and the options provided by your dentist or orthodontist. Traditional braces realign teeth by applying pressure. They usually consist of small brackets cemented to your teeth, connected by a wire, which is periodically tightened by your dentist or orthodontist to gradually shift your teeth and jaw. The brackets may be metal or tooth colored. Sometimes they are placed behind your teeth. Under the direct supervision of a dentist or orthodontist, removable aligners are another option for treating orthodontic problems.
Orthodontic treatment may be provided by your dentist or an orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. It will depend on the orthodontic experience of your dentist and the severity of your case.
Since abnormal bites usually become noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. That doesn’t mean that adults can’t have braces; healthy teeth can be orthodontically treated at any age.
Treatment plans will vary based on your situation, but most people are in treatment from one to three years. This is followed by a period of wearing a retainer that holds teeth in their new positions. Today’s braces are more comfortable than ever before. Newer materials apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth and usually require fewer adjustments.
While you have braces it’s important to maintain a balanced diet for the health of your teeth. Of course, a healthy diet is always important, but eating too many sugary foods with braces can lead to plaque build-up around your brackets that could permanently stain or damage your teeth. Avoiding foods like popcorn, corn on the cob, chewing gum, whole apples, and other sticky foods is also a good idea. Ask your dentist about foods to avoid while you are in treatment. Not all of us are born with beautiful smiles, but with a good oral hygiene routine, and a little help from orthodontics, you can have a beautiful and healthy smile.
Braces can correct misaligned teeth to improve your smile and your dental health, but braces pain can make you uncomfortable.
How Braces Work
Knowing a bit about how braces work can help you prepare for the braces pain you might experience. Braces place continuous pressure on the teeth to slowly move them into a different position. The key components of braces are:
Brackets: A bracket is attached to each tooth or to a band placed around the tooth. Brackets hold the wires that actually cause the teeth to move. Braces pain associated with brackets may include pain from the band or the brackets.
Wires: The wires used for braces are known as arch wires. They are attached to the brackets, and an orthodontist adjusts them at regular visits. Sometimes braces pain occurs soon after the braces are adjusted.
Benefits Of Braces
Braces pain can be uncomfortable, but wearing braces to improve your bite can help to eliminate other types of mouth and tooth pain caused by misaligned teeth. Other benefits of braces include:
Easier Oral Care: Straight teeth are easier to clean, so you will be at less risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Increased Confidence: When braces have corrected your misaligned teeth, you’ll enjoy the improved self-confidence that comes with a healthy smile.
What Causes Braces Pain?
The exact cause of braces pain is unknown, but it may be attributed to internal or external factors.
Internal: Some research has shown that braces pain may be caused by changes in blood flow that occur when the braces apply pressure to the teeth.
External: The physical rubbing of the brackets and wires can cause braces pain in the soft tissue inside the mouth. This type of braces pain usually lessens with time, as the tissues become tougher. Sometimes one of the arch wires can cause braces pain by poking into the back of the mouth, but orthodontic wax can usually relieve this.
How to Relieve Pain from Braces
Many products are available to provide relief of braces pain. For pain associated with the pressure of the braces, try over the counter pain relieving products. Tablets or capsules such as Motrin or Advil can provide relief of braces pain, or you can use topical pain relieving products. Ask your dentist for recommendations if your braces pain persists. In addition, toothpaste, mouth rinse, and dental floss designed for sensitive teeth such as those in the Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield regimen can help relieve tooth pain. (1), (2)
Try these additional tips to relieve braces pain:
Eat Soft Foods: If you tend to experience braces pain after an orthodontic adjustment, stick to soft foods, such as Jello®, pasta, and soft-cooked vegetables for the first day or so.
Protect Your Braces: If you play contact sports while wearing braces, be sure to use a mouth guard. Being hit or falling during sports can cause brackets to break or wires to come loose, which causes braces pain and adds to the expense of orthodontic care.
How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces
While brushing teeth with braces may be a bit challenging it’s even more important for people with braces to brush properly. That’s because food particles can easily get caught in your braces, which can lead to harmful plaque bacteria that can cause gum disease. Effectively brushing teeth with braces is very important for your long-term oral health.
How to Clean Braces
Ask your dental professional for a brush that's specifically designed for brushing teeth with braces. These brushes are made to reach in between all brackets and hardware.
Brushing teeth with braces takes a bit longer than it does without braces. Brush from top to bottom and in between all braces. Take your time to ensure you keep your teeth healthy and protected while you wear braces.
Brush more often, including after every snack or meal.
candies and sodas – everywhere you go, there are sugary treats to tempt you and
your kids. The effects of sugar on teeth may not be noticeable right away, but
too much can lead to tooth decay if you don't stay on top of it. Here's how
sugar can harm your family's dental health and what you can do to prevent it.
When you eat or drink
sugary foods – refined, processed or in the form of carbohydrates – you're
feeding the beast. Bacteria in your mouth digest the foods you eat and
specifically feed on the sugar, producing acids that can slowly dissolve tooth
enamel and cause tooth decay. According to the National Institute of Dental and
Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), these acids do the most damage to your teeth for
20 minutes after eating; this is what is known as an "acid attack."
So the more sugary foods you eat throughout the day, the more your teeth are
exposed to decay-causing acids.
Sensible Food Choices
What can you do to
protect your family from these ubiquitous acid attacks? Eliminating sugars
completely from your family's diet is unrealistic, because most of your foods
contain some form of sugar or starch. However, you can still control the amount
of sugar you and your family consumes and reduce the total time your teeth are
susceptible to bacterial acids. Consider the following dietary adjustments:
Eat a nutritious and
balanced diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and low-fat dairy.
Check food labels for
Avoid sugary foods that
stay in your mouth for a long time, like hard, sticky or chewy varieties
Offer healthy snacks,
such as cheese, fruits, yogurt, peanut butter, chocolate milk and
Save your sugary treats
for the end of a meal or before a tooth-brushing session, rather than
throughout the day.
Substitute water for
sugar-laden sodas and fruit juices.
Oral Hygiene Is a Good
Brushing your teeth
thoroughly after eating cleans recent sugary foods and existing bacteria off of
your teeth, and flossing once a day will clean between your teeth – a prime
spot for bacteria to hide. For those times when you aren't at home to brush off
an acid attack, disposable toothbrushes like the Colgate® Wisp™ mini-brush can be taken to work or packed
with your kids' lunches. Have your family use fluoride toothpaste as an added
defense to strengthen their teeth, making them more resistant to harmful acids
in the future.
Preventive Care and
dental checkups and cleaning appointments for your family; this way, any signs
of tooth decay can be taken care of early. The Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) George McLaughlin, DMD, recommends placing
sealants on children's permanent first molars as soon as they appear in the
mouth. This thin coating acts as a barrier on the chewing surface of the tooth,
and protects it from decay-producing acids. Other preventive measures for
children include fluoride treatment and varnishes.
There is no denying
that people love their sugar. In fact, the NIDCR suggests the average person in the U.S. eats about 147 pounds
of it a year – that produces an enormous potential for tooth decay. Make the
necessary changes in diet and dental hygiene now, so the effects of sugar on
teeth don't come when your family is preoccupied with bigger life events.
Plaque Your teeth are covered with a sticky film called plaque that can
contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque contains bacteria, which
following a meal or snack containing sugar can release acids that attack tooth
enamel. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to break down, eventually
resulting in cavities. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing
and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. This
makes it more difficult to keep your teeth clean.
When tartar collects above the gum line, the gum tissue can
become swollen and may bleed easily. This is called gingivitis, the early stage
of gum disease. You can prevent plaque buildup and keep your teeth cavity-free
by regularly visiting the dentist, brushing twice a day with a fluoride
toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with dental floss daily.
Dental health is not limited to your teeth. Sores or irritations can develop in and around the mouth. Fortunately, they usually heal on their own within a week or two. Mouth sores come in several different varieties and can have any number of causes, including:
Infections from bacteria, viruses or fungus
Irritation from a loose orthodontic wire, a denture that doesn’t fit, or a sharp edge from a broken tooth or filling.
Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath, and if you’ve ever had it, you shouldn’t feel bad. About 1 in 5 people in the general population suffer from it, and many people who think they have it actually do not.
The paranoia probably stems from the social stigma people place on those who have bad breath. In some cases, the causes of bad breath are simple and preventable so others are quick to judge, but there are rare exceptions in which someone’s halitosis may actually require medical attention. Knowing what causes bad breath can help identify the difference. In most cases, bad breath isn’t serious, but if it lasts longer than a few weeks, it may be evidence of a deeper underlying problem.
Bad Breath Causes
In order to get rid of bad breath, the first thing you need to know is why it’s happening. There are basically 10 common causes of bad breath:
Drinking and Eating Certain Foods and Drinks: Certain drinks and foods, particularly coffee, garlic and onions, are notorious for creating bad breath. We love them for their taste, but that taste can linger once it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. Not only is the smell expelled through the breath, but the odors remain until the body processes the food.
Plaque Buildup: When you don’t brush properly, or often enough, bacteria can form in your mouth, and it’s one of the primary causes of bad breath. This bacteria feeds on the food particles left behind on your teeth and gums and produce waste products that release foul odors. If you have braces, you should take extra care to remove food particles from your mouth to avoid bad breath.
Infrequent Flossing: When you don’t floss, small particles of food can get stuck between your teeth and around your gums. These are tricky places where toothbrushes can’t quite reach. When food particles are left behind, they start to collect bacteria, which in turn causes bad breath and plaque.
Tongue Bacteria: Bacterial growth on the tongue accounts for 80‒90 percent of all cases of mouth-related bad breath. Poor oral hygiene results in plaque bacteria being left behind on your teeth and gums. This bacteria produces foul-smelling waste products that cause bad breath. This can lead to gingivitis, tooth decay, and cavities.
Smoking: Smoking is a major cause of bad breath. Your body will thank you for giving up smoking, but your friends will, too. It can lead to serious bad breath and you may not even notice it because you have been accustomed to the smell. Your bad breath may be due to other causes, too, but tobacco use is a guarantee of bad breath. If you’re ready to quit, ask your doctor or dentist for advice and support.
Dry Mouth: When your mouth is extremely dry, there isn’t enough saliva to wash away excess food particles and bacteria. Over time, this can cause an unpleasant smell if they build up on the teeth. Both stress and breathing through your mouth can also be causes of dry mouth, and certain medications have dry mouth as a side effect. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Breathing through your mouth can also cause the saliva you produce to evaporate rapidly. That’s why many people who breath through their mouth when they sleep get a dry mouth and wake up with bad breath.
Morning Breath: Your mouth produces less saliva while you’re sleeping so food particle bacteria multiply faster while you sleep. That’s why bad breath odors are typically worse when you first wake up.
Infections: If you have an infection in your mouth from a wound, it’s an easy target for bacteria build-up. If you’re having oral surgery (having your wisdom teeth pulled for example), be sure to keep an eye on the infection. A medical professional can prescribe antibiotics to help minimize the infection. If you’re having your wisdom teeth or other teeth removed, it’s possible that you may need to deal with bad breath, as well. When your teeth are extracted, bacteria can get inside your wounds and this is what causes halitosis. Your dentist may provide antibiotics to help, but if the infection persists and causes chronic bad breath for more than a few days, you may need to see your dentist to have the wound cleaned. Bacteria can also infect your gums when they’re not healthy or when they are compromised by other health issues or physical injury.
Medical Conditions: Bad breath can be the result of certain conditions, such as tonsil stones, respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or liver or kidney ailments. If you suspect that your bad breath may be the result of something chronic, speak to a medical professional. Certain conditions beyond your control can cause bad breath: sinus infections, tonsil stones, respiratory tract infections, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbances, or liver or kidney ailments are just some of the medical causes of bad breath. If you have chronic bad breath and your dentist rules out any oral health problems, see your doctor for an evaluation.
Postnasal Drip: If you have sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses, mucus can get caught in the back of your throat, which can cause postnasal drip. The mucus can collect bacteria, and to make matters worse, now you have postnasal drip bad breath. Often, drinking lots of water and taking a decongestant can help with sinusitis, but if you have severe symptoms or your symptoms have lasted longer than a few weeks, you should talk to your doctor.
Bad Breath Remedies and Treatments
If you’re looking for a quick breath remedy, these simple tips can help with bad breath in the short term.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables: Biting into a crispy apple is a great way to freshen your breath before you can get to brushing.
Sugar-free Gum: It does more than refresh your mouth with flavor—it helps remove food particles and increases your saliva production which can help freshen breath.
Drink More Water: A dry mouth can quickly lead to bad breath and is often the culprit of morning breath. Make sure you stay hydrated and keep a glass of water on your nightstand for a quick reach when you wake up.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease,
is an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth, and is caused by a buildup of plaque.
In its early stages, symptoms may include:
gums that bleed easily
red, swollen, tender gums
Some factors that can put you at higher risk of developing gingivitis include:
poor dental care
smoking or chewing tobacco
crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
This might sound scary, but at this stage the disease is still reversible. Eliminating the infection can be as easy as trip to the dentist office for a professional cleaning, as well as daily brushing and flossing.
Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. This is why it’s important to schedule regular dental checkups in addition to maintaining a good dental routine of brushing and flossing.