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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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How to choose the right Halloween candy
It’s October and time for Halloween! It's great fun for children, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, collecting candy, coming home to admire their haul, and sometimes stockpiling it for months. But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with Halloween, because they know the possible ramifications of eating candy: not only damage to the teeth and gums but also possibly to a child's overall health. You already know that having healthy teeth and gums has an impact that goes far beyond the mouth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, periodontal disease and infection, which can impact a patient's heart, lungs, and entire body. Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental & Orthodontics, has five tips on candy for patients of all ages: 1. Choose candy carefully. Avoid hard candy, such as lollipops, and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time. These candies increase the risk for tooth decay. 2. Avoid chewy candy. Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down. 3. Chocolate is preferable. Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. 4. Eat Halloween candy only after mealtime. Parents should avoid letting their kids snack on candy throughout the day. Saliva production increases during meals, helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles. 5. Take preventive steps. Drinking water intermittently helps to keep the sugar from resting in the grooves of their teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly before going to bed are crucial. By exercising good common sense, you’ll maintain a bright smile and healthy gums throughout the Halloween season and beyond. Happy Halloween!