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How braces can deliver more than just a straight smile

When contemplating the merits of orthodontic treatment, prospective patients don’t often look beyond the obvious benefits of an improved bite, straighter teeth, and a higher self-esteem. Braces can correct myriad of oral health issues that, if not treated, can cause bigger problems later in life.


And, while other non-traditional forms of orthodontic treatment to improve physical appearance have sprung up over recent years (like online mail-order services or the clear molded trays designed to move teeth), they’re not appropriate for everyone, and they do nothing to address other more serious dental health problems.


Crooked and misaligned teeth can contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and possibly gum disease or total tooth loss. In more extreme cases, disfiguring of the face and mouth occurs, affecting the development of the jaw and position of the teeth. That can lead to breathing or swallowing problems which can cause snoring and sleep apnea problems as an adult. Improper occlusion and jaw alignment can also create speech, chewing or biting problems. Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints, leading to headaches or face and neck pain.


Of course, the typical reasons for braces are to correct a cross bite (one or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth), deep overbites (lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth), under bites or lower jaw protrusion (when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw) and spacing problems due to missing or extra teeth.


While orthodontic treatment is most common for young teens, all ages can benefit from braces, from pre-ortho treatment at age nine or so, to full braces for teens and young adults. And it’s not unheard of for older adults whose teeth may have shifted over the years to undergo treatment to realign their smiles.


Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. Many parents take their children to the orthodontist to correct problems arising from issues of early childhood. For example, finger or thumb sucking habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth and constriction of the upper jaw. Teeth that erupt out of position can also be guided to proper alignment with braces.


It’s important to meet with an orthodontist for an evaluation. Many orthodontists provide ortho consultations free of charge. At that point, they can present options, including clear, gold or traditional braces, and discuss financing packages. With all the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier or more effective.

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August Is Dental Sealants Month at Western Dental
It may be Dental Sealants Month at every Western Dental office, but sealants will help reduce cavities all year long. If you’re a parent, you know that getting your child to brush after every meal can be a challenge. Even so, while brushing is key, it’s not always possible to reach every nook and cranny, especially back molars, where food particles and cavity-causing bacteria can hide. That’s why dental sealants, a clear, thin protective coating, can be a key treatment in reducing and preventing cavities. In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health since, according to a report issued by the Center for Disease Control, "school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants." (October 2016) Early intervention for children is key (although adults can benefit from sealants, too). First molars appear around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Applying sealants to new molars can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run. Applying sealants is an easy and painless process. Your dentist preps the surface of your tooth by applying a gel so that a strong bond will form between your tooth and the sealant. Sealant is then applied onto the grooves of your tooth and hardened under a special blue light. Sealants dry to a clear, invisible coating. Your dentist will insure the sealants are effectively protecting your teeth each time you come in for your appointment. Sealants will often last for several years. Your dentist can advise you if sealants are an option for you, and how often you might need to reapply them.
Be Prepared for Summer Travel: 5 Dental Health Tips for Your Vacation
Summer is here and, for many of us, it’s time for family vacation. Whether you’re boarding a plane for an exotic locale, spending a few days at your favorite amusement park, or loading up the kids for a trip to Grandma’s, it may still be a challenge to make dental health a part of your itinerary. After you’ve packed the sunscreen, bug spray and first aid kit, here are a few tips to protect your teeth and avoid dental mishaps: Don’t neglect your dental hygiene just because you’re on vacation. While a break from the usual routine may be welcome, you’ll still want to maintain good oral health. Make teeth brushing and flossing prerequisite for you and your family before heading off to the beach or boarding the tour bus. Just because you’re roughing it on a camping trip doesn’t mean your dental hygiene needs to suffer. Keep healthy food on hand. Summer can mean cotton candy, s’mores and soda – fun as an occasional treat, but too many sugary foods can lead to cavities. When packing for a road trip, think fruit, nuts, low-sugar or sugar-free options. You’ll save money on snacks – and your teeth. Buy new gear. While you’re shopping for that new swimsuit or summer outfit, now is also the time to stock up on new toothbrushes to replace those old, worn out and frayed brushes. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your brush every three to four months. Toothbrush holders for travel and travel-sized toothpaste are also useful items when away from home. Know what to do in case of a dental emergency. Carry your dentist’s contact information with you, and know where the nearest dentist is located. When in doubt, call Western Dental. They have over 240 locations in the West, so if you’re traveling in California, Arizona, Texas or Nevada, you may just find one close by. Schedule a check-up for your family. Get a clean bill of dental health for the summer and avoid tooth problems while on vacation. That way, you’ll have your check-ups out of the way and the kids will be ready for classes in the Fall. To schedule an appointment at the nearest Western Dental office, click here. Summer vacation is made for family time and outdoor activities. With a little preparation, you can minimize unforeseen dental problems and return from your trip renewed and ready to tackle your next challenge.