Posts for: October, 2013

TreatingThumbSuckingNowCouldReduceOrthodonticTreatmentLater

One of the most common parental concerns is the habit of many children, even late into childhood, to suck their thumbs or fingers. Many parents have asked us, “Could this affect their teeth?”

The answer, unfortunately, is yes — thumb sucking can contribute to a malocclusion (bad bite) that could eventually require orthodontic treatment. Before making any assumptions, however, we need to understand the bigger picture.

To begin with, infants have a different swallowing mechanism than adults and older children. When you as an adult swallow, you'll notice the tip of your tongue positions itself just above the back of the top front teeth. An infant, however, will thrust their tongue between their upper and lower jaw as they swallow (also known as an infantile swallowing pattern or primary tongue thrust). The infant normally begins changing to an adult swallowing pattern when their primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt.

However, if a child's swallowing transition is slower than normal and the tongue rests between the jaws for a longer duration, it can inhibit the full eruption of teeth, believed to be the main cause of an open bite (a gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are shut). The thumb during sucking resting between the teeth can have the same effect.

Thumb sucking may not necessarily lead to a malocclusion — for example, an abnormally developing jawbone could be the culprit. If prolonged thumb sucking does become a concern, however, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of the habit. We can install a thin metal “tongue crib” behind the upper and lower incisors that will not only discourage thumb sucking, but also help retrain the tongue not to rest between the upper and lower teeth. There are also exercise routines known as orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) that can retrain specific muscles in the mouth to encourage more normal chewing and swallowing patterns.

These steps may not prevent future orthodontic treatment, but they could reduce its extent. The key is regular dental checkups and consultation to ensure your child's teeth and bite are developing normally.

If you would like more information on the effects of chronic thumb sucking on the mouth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”


By Bamberg Dentistry
October 18, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
ChangesDavidBowiesDentalTransformation

In his decades long career, pop-music chameleon David Bowie has gone through a dizzying series of transformations. And as he morphed from alien-inspired space oddity to fashion-forward international superstar, his smile benefited from some very dramatic ch-ch-ch-changes. While Bowie hasn't talked much about his dental treatments, a comparison of pictures from the mid 1970s to the mid '90s (not to mention a much-viewed youtube video on the subject) makes it clear: his tooth staining, misalignment and gum recession have been left behind like polyester bellbottoms.

But tooth makeovers aren't just for pop stars! Cosmetic dentistry can benefit anyone who's interested in improving their appearance, at any age. Often, treatment starts with a “smile analysis” — a review of the current aesthetics of your mouth, including the shape, spacing, color and alignment of the teeth, the appearance and general health of the gums, and the way the lips and gums frame the smile.

This analysis can help pinpoint some places where the overall look of your smile may need improvement, and it can also identify some specific treatments to make it better. It's even possible to see a simulation of what you'd look like after the treatments are complete, to help ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable. What are some of the most common cosmetic procedures?

For stained teeth, you can try in-office whitening with concentrated bleaching solutions, or professionally-supervised at-home treatments using plastic trays that are custom-made to fit your teeth. The major difference between the two is the amount of time you need — with in-office treatments, you'll see results right away, while at-home gels may require weeks.

Tooth bonding and restoration with composite resin is a relatively fast and easy way to fix minor to moderate chips, flaws and discoloration. Because the composite material bonds directly to the tooth itself, this method requires only minor tooth preparation, and is often completed in just one office visit.

If your teeth, like Bowie's, need more extensive restoration, dental veneers or crowns may be required. Veneers are super strong, wafer-thin coverings that fit over the front surface of your teeth. Besides giving you that “Hollywood white” smile, they can also lengthen teeth that are too small, correct misalignment and close gaps in your smile. To correct even more extensive problems, crowns (also called caps) can replace the entire visible portion of one or more teeth — or, if teeth are missing, a permanent, long-lasting dental implant can be placed.

Many adults are choosing orthodontics to correct problems of tooth position, alignment or spacing — in fact, some 20% of all orthodontic patients today are grown-ups! It's never too late to start treatment, and with less-noticeable appliances like clear aligners and tooth-colored braces, it's easier than ever to make those ch-ch-ch-changes.

If you would like more information about the options available in cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Orthodontics For The Older Adult” and “Cosmetic Dentistry.”


BondingAGoodChoiceforRepairingDamagedorChippedTeethinYoungsters

Imagine this: your active, adventurous child — or adolescent — loves high-risk contact sports like hockey or football, and while playing breaks a front tooth. After an emergency trip to our office, we recommend bonding as a good choice for this repair.

“What is bonding?” you ask. Here's what you need to know. In a bonding procedure, a composite resin restoration material is attached (bonded) to the broken tooth, and it looks as good as new.

Composite resin restorations are tooth-colored filling materials composed of a special plastic-based matrix for strength, with glass filler for aesthetics and translucence. The combination looks just like a natural tooth. The composite resin material is physically bonded to the remaining healthy tooth structure. First the natural tooth enamel or dentin must be etched so that the composite resin can attach and actually join to the tooth. In the end it will function as one and look exactly like a tooth.

Composites can be placed directly on the teeth in our office, quite easily, and they are relatively inexpensive. They look natural and can be matched to your child's natural tooth. They require little to no tooth reduction. Bonded composite resin restorations are the best choice for children and teenagers because their teeth and jaws are still growing and developing. What's more, they are still active in their sports and could need further restorations.

Composite resin restorations may need to be replaced with more permanent restorations after your child is fully grown. The bonded resin restorations may wear over time, and may stain and dull somewhat with age. When your child has completed growth, more permanent restorations such as porcelain veneers or crowns may be necessary.

By the way, a custom-made mouthguard might have prevented injury in the first place and certainly should be considered in the future.

If your child has chipped or damaged a tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bonding and a protective mouthguard. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Repairing Chipped Teeth.”