The Anatomy of a Beautiful Smile

There are multiple attributes that come together to complete the anatomy of a great-looking smile. For most people, a well-proportioned, white smile is considered very desirable and attractive. Here are some of the components that collectively make up the anatomy of a beautiful smile:

The Proportion of Your Upper Incisors

Your upper incisors (front four teeth) are the stars of the show!  Because of the position, they are very easy to seen and most noticeable.  Each tooth has a range of sizes and ratios of height x width that people find attractive.  There is also a relationship of how much of a tooth is shown when smiling.  This goes back to Pythagoras and his concept that beauty is an exact mathematical calculation or relationship! He referred to this relationship as the Golden Proportion.

As people age, the upper lip lengthens and a smaller amount of the upper front teeth are shown when smiling.   Thus, displaying all of the front teeth is a very vibrant and youthful smile!  As we are designing your smile, we look at you teeth and smile and enhance the positive attributes of your smile to maximize the youthfulness and beauty of your smile!

The Amount of Visible Gum Tissue

While having some gums showing when smiling is usually seen as a desirable and youthful part of a smile, excess, swollen or discolored gum tissue can be distracting and less desirable.   Depending on the cause and amount, the options to correct the gum tissue can be very easy and quick.  The gum display of a smile is a little like Goldilocks.  You don’t want too much or too little, but want it just right!.

The Arc of Your Smile

The arc of your smile is the way that the line formed by the lower edge of your top teeth correlates with the line formed by the top edge of your lower lip. The perfect smile arc includes a dental curve and a lip curve that are basically parallel to one another.

When we are looking at your smile and smile design, we also look at the anatomy of your lip and how your lip moves and changes when you talk and smile!  This allows us to achieve a beautiful and natural looking smile!

Negative Smile Space

When you smile, there’s usually a little black space that can be seen at each corner of your mouth. Although negative spaces should be displayed in every smile, if the space is too large or too small, it can detract from the appearance of the smile.

The Wideness of a Smile

Broader or wider smiles are often seen as more attractive. The broadness of your smile is the width of the displayed upper arch of your teeth.  People who have a narrow arch of teeth may only display a few of them when they smile and often their smile will look like “buck teeth.”

Ideally, the upper premolars should be visible when you smile and you upper arch should have a gentile curve. If your smile is not as broad as desired, in some cases, the jaw can be expanded using orthodontic appliances to create a wider smile.

Teeth Color

The color of your teeth is also important when it comes to the anatomy of a beautiful smile. Teeth that appear stained are deemed less attractive than those that are white and bright. Thus, even if your dental alignment is being corrected to improve the look of your smile, it is important to care for your teeth properly throughout and after the treatment process to prevent discoloration.  Depending on the cause of the discoloration, bleaching or various dental restorations can correct the concern.

The Emergence Profile of a Tooth

The emergence profile is the way that a tooth extends or emerges from the gum tissue when the tooth is observed from a side view. If the emergence profile does not allow a tooth to offer enough support to the cheeks and lips, the fullness of a person’s smile can be compromised. This can result in a worn, caved-in facial appearance.  If the upper teeth or jaw are too far forward, the teeth can look too protrusive and can also be undesirable .  We desire to obtain good lip support and a balanced profile smile!

There are a lot of components that go into making a beautiful smile and at Strickland Orthodontics, we enjoy looking at every patient’s smile and designing and developing their perfect smile!  If you have any concerns with you smile and what can be done to improve it, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Halitosis; Do You Smell That?

Nobody wants bad breath. However, millions of people suffer from the condition. Chronic halitosis, which is another name for bad breath, begins in many cases due to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

Often, people are concerned about removing bacteria from their teeth. However, oral bacteria also accumulates on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums and oral appliances, affecting the smell of your breath.

Why does bad breath occur?

Bad breath is frequently the result of byproducts of the oral bacteria in your mouth. The anaerobic bacteria that often live in the grooves of the tongue release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that give bad breath its characteristic smell. In addition, food particles that are left in the mouth after a meal or snack can begin to rot within the mouth, emitting a foul odor. Additional causes of bad breath include dental infections, odorous foods and health conditions in other areas of the body.

Conditions Outside of the Mouth That Cause Bad Breath

Bad breath is also associated with other medical conditions, such as sinus infections, kidney problems, liver issues and diabetes. In addition, health conditions, treatments and medications that cause a reduction in the amount of saliva within the mouth can exacerbate halitosis. As a result, patients who are undergoing treatments, such as radiation therapy, may incur bad breath more frequently.

Why does dry mouth cause bad breath?

The saliva produced by your mouth helps wash away oral bacteria. Since the liquid keeps your mouth cleaner, it helps eliminate bad breath sources within the oral cavity. When saliva is scarce, your breath is more likely to have an unpleasant odor. This is the reason for morning breath.

Morning breath is often due to the reduction in saliva production that occurs as you sleep. With little saliva to rinse microbes away, the bacteria in your mouth reproduce rapidly, causing your morning breath.

Foods that Cause Bad Breath

Foods can also affect your breath. Some foods, such as onions and garlic, have a higher sulfur content than others. Even though the foods eventually reach your stomach, the odors can be absorbed by your body and released as you breathe.

What can be done to help alleviate bad breath?

Here are a few things that you can do to help improve the smell of your breath:

  • Brush. Brushing your teeth regularly can help decrease the levels of plaque within your mouth. As you brush, it is important to pay attention to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as your tongue, the roof of your mouth and your inner cheeks. My removing bacteria from as many surfaces as possible, you can help eliminate bad breath.
  • Use a tongue cleaner. Although a toothbrush is efficient at brushing the teeth, it is not as thorough as a tongue scraper at cleaning the tongue. The scraper is usually a simple tool made of plastic that is raked across the tongue to remove the build-up of bacteria.
  • Floss. Flossing is particularly important because particles of food that can decay within the mouth often become trapped between the teeth. Flossing also helps eliminate plaque between the teeth before it hardens into tartar. Due to the porous surface of tartar, it can become a haven for bacteria and other odorous substances that can exacerbate your bad breath.
  • Chew gum. Sugar-free gum can help keep oral bacteria at bay, especially varieties that contain xylitol, a natural sweetener that is also antimicrobial. In addition, the fragrance of the gum can improve the smell of your breath as you chew. The sticky nature of the gum also causes it to pull plaque and debris from your teeth and gums. It is especially helpful to chew the gum immediately after a meal or snack.
  • Visit your dentist often. Your dentist can help keep your mouth clean by regularly removing tartar deposits. In addition, he or she can identify the source of your bad breath and recommend a suitable treatment. If your dentist believes that your bad breath is being caused by a systemic condition, you may be referred to another medical professional for treatment.
  • Clean your dental appliances. If you wear braces or have a retainer, keeping these items clean can help improve your breath.

If you suffer from chronic bad breath and believe that it is associated with your braces, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

All About TMJ

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is like a hinge that slides and connects the jawbone to the skull. There is a TMJ joint on each side of the jaw. The bones that work in conjunction with the temporomandibular joint are covered with cartilage and a small shock-absorbing disk separates these bones from the joint itself, to ensure the movements of the jaw remain smooth. However, if this disk moves out of alignment or erodes, TMJ syndrome (aka TMD) can result. TMJ syndrome (or TMD) is the term used to refer to disorders affecting the temporomandibular joints and the muscles responsible for controlling the movement of the jaw.

How Common is TMJ Syndrome?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, women seem to be more susceptible to TMJ disorders than men are. While the actual number of Americans who have TMJ is unknown, estimates suggest more than 10 million Americans are affected with this condition.

Are There Risk Factors for Developing TMJ?

Yes, there are several factors that increase an individual’s likelihood of developing TMJ syndrome, including:

  • being female;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • bruxism, which is a chronic (long-term) grinding or clenching of the teeth (it is important to note that bruxism and TMJ do not necessarily go hand-and-hand);
  • certain diseases that affect the connective tissue (i.e., systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.);
  • a genetic disposition for certain inherited conditions;
  • an injury to the neck (whiplash); and/or
  • a jaw injury.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome?

The signs and symptoms associated with these disorders can include:

  • an aching in and around the ear;
  • tenderness or pain in the jaw;
  • an aching-type pain in the face;
  • difficulty chewing;
  • pain in the temporomandibular joint(s);
  • pain while chewing;
  • a clicking sound and/or odd sensation upon opening the mouth or chewing; as well as
  • difficulty opening and/or closing the mouth.

If you have TMJ, you will most likely experience pain and/or limited movement when your jaw clicks.

Diagnosing Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Although there is not a standard test available for diagnosing TMJ, identifying these disorders involves collecting information related to your symptoms, as well as your medical and dental history. Furthermore, at Strickland Orthodontics, a thorough examination of the affected areas will be performed: These areas typically include the neck, head, jaw and face. Sometimes, imaging studies will be recommended.

Categorizing TMJ Syndrome

Researchers categorize temporomandibular joint syndrome using three main categories:

  1. Arthritis – referring to a group of inflammatory/degenerative joint disorders.
  2. Myofascial Pain – pain or discomfort in the muscles responsible for controlling the function of the jaw.
  3. Internal Derangement – a dislocated jaw, injury to the condyle (which is the round part of the bone forming the joint) or a displaced disk.

There are a variety of other health problems that tend to co-exist with temporomandibular joint disorders.

These problems include:

  • Sleep Disturbances/Disorders – insomnia, non-24 sleep wake disorder, sleep-related movement disorders (i.e., restless leg syndrome), etc.
  • Fibromyalgia – this is a painful condition that affects the soft tissues and muscles throughout the body.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – characterized by exhaustion, pain and sleep abnormalities that are made worse with exertion.

An individual may have one or more of these conditions.

When to Seek Medical Attention

You should contact Strickland Orthodontics right away if you are finding it difficult to open and/or close your jaw all the way or you are experiencing constant tenderness, or pain in your jaw.

Treating TMJ Disorders

If the cause of your TMJ is structural, Dr. H.L. Strickland and Dr. Stephen Strickland can correct any teeth malformations that are aggravating or causing the condition. If the problem is not structural, the discomfort and pain associated with these disorders can usually be relieved through nonsurgical treatments and/or self-managed care. Nonsurgical treatments may include medications and/or stabilization splints. Self-managed care may include eating soft foods, using ice packs as well as relaxing the jaw muscles using specialized techniques. Surgical intervention is only considered if the more conservative measures fail.

Dr. H.L. Strickland and Dr. Stephen Strickland offer individuals residing in Alabama five convenient locations to choose from. Whether you need clear braces, traditional braces, Invisalign™ , an auxiliary appliance, soft tissue laser,  an expander or surgical orthodontic treatment, Strickland Orthodontist can assist you in creating the beautiful smile you have always wanted and/or treating the symptoms associated with conditions like TMJ.

Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 7:30a.m. to 4:30p.m. If you would like to make an appointment at our Spanish Fort or Bay Minette office, please call (251) 272-3232: To contact our Fairhope, Fairhope South or Foley office, please call (251) 928-9292. If you would rather make your appointment online, please access our contact form by clicking here.

 

How Smiling Improves Your First Impression

When you smile, you tell the world and those around you that you are happy. In fact, a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that 57% of people say that a smile from a stranger makes them want to smile and can improve their day!  An astounding 88% of people say that smiling makes them feel good about themselves and improves their mood.  Unfortunately, if you have crooked teeth, an overbite or an underbite, you may be hesitant to smile and show off your teeth.  A beautiful smile that you are confident in will help improve your day as well as others that you see.  Thankfully, with help from our wonderful team at Strickland Orthodontics, you can achieve a beautiful and healthy smile that you can be proud to show off.

Why are First Impressions so Important

One of the main reasons is that they happen everyday.  Every time you meet someone you make a decision about that person based on how the interaction and conversation goes.  And in our modern society, a person’s visual appearance makes a big impact in this first meeting.  Even though we are always taught not to “judge a book by its cover,” this happens everyday from kids meeting new friends at school to human resource firms that are in charge of hiring professionals for the most prestigious companies in our country.  This snap judgment continues because it is all we have to develop an impression on the person and research has shown that they can be surprisingly accurate!  Since first impressions will always be a part of meeting new people and making new friends, we will share with you some things that will help improve your first impression!

Improve Your First Impression with a Smile

Smiling triggers the reward centers of the brain. This means that when you smile, you feel better about yourself and anyone who sees you smiling will feel better about themselves. You may even receive a smile in return, and you will make a positive first impression.

  • On the Job Interview – Job interviews can be extremely stressful. You not only need to make a good first impression, you need to be confident and highlight your skills while appearing to be at ease. If you are uncomfortable with your smile, you will be less likely to project confidence and less likely to smile, which may impact the impression you make on the interviewer. In contrast, when you have a straight, healthy smile, you will be viewed as confident, trustworthy and successful, and you will be more apt to smile more!
  • On a First Date – Meeting someone new is another area where having a confident smile can help you. When you smile upon meeting someone for the first time, you are telling them that you are at ease and glad to meet them. You are also triggering the reward center of their brain, and they will be more likely to return the smile and engage in conversation so that you may get to know each other better.
  • In Group Social Situations – One of the first things people will notice about you is your teeth and mouth. If you have crooked teeth, an overbite or an underbite, the people around you may view you as less confident and less attractive. They may even assume that you have bad oral hygiene. Straightening your teeth and corrective your improper bite can help you improve your appearance, help you feel more positive about yourself and help you make a lasting positive impression in group social situations.

Here are Some Quick Facts About Smiles and First Impressions:

  • 29% of Americans say teeth are the first facial feature noticed when meeting someone – Second to only your eyes!
  • People with straight teeth are described to be happier, friendlier, healthier, more popular, and trustworthy and have higher self-esteem than people with crooked teeth.
  • 38% would consider not going on a second date with someone who has misaligned teeth.  
  • People with straight teeth are 58% more likely to have professional success and to be hired with compared with someone with a similar skill-set.
  • Individuals with straight teeth are thought of as earning a higher salary than those with crooked teeth.

Correcting Common Dental Problems with Braces

There are many common dental problems that can cause dental health and esthetic concerns for you. Orthodontic care using aligners or braces can help correct a variety of dental problems, including crooked teeth, gaps, underbites, overbites and crossbites. They accomplish this by slowly adjusting the position of your teeth until they are in their ideal locations, and with the recent advancements in teeth straightening technology, there are more choices than ever when it comes to choosing the right braces for your teeth so that you can make a good first impression while improving the appearance of your teeth.

Selecting the best appliance for YOU!

When many children, teenagers and adults think about braces, their minds immediately show them images of adolescents and young adults with a mouth full of metal, wearing headgear.  I mean, this is how almost every orthodontic patient is portrayed in TV shows and movies! While metal braces are still available, there are other alternatives that are less noticeable. In our office, the metal braces are manufactured from titanium and this gives us many advantages over standard stainless steel braces. These braces are very small and comfortable and the titanium allows them to be exceptionally durable!  You can also select the color of the ties at each appointment so your smile can always be fashionable! Click here(http://stricklandorthodontics.com/metal-braces) to find out more about why we use these braces!

If you are more concern with esthetics, you now have the option of using crystal clear ceramic braces or aligners (Invisalign).  Both of these options allow you to achieve the benefits of orthodontic care while being less noticeable.  Clear braces are a great option for teens and adults that want to straighten their teeth while minimizing the noticeability of their braces. Clear braces are manufactured from ceramic and completely clear, which reduces the appearance of the braces so that you can correct your teeth in a more aesthetic fashion.

In our practice, we have worked very hard to become very proficient at providing exceptional care with removable aligners like Invisalign.  Our experience and clinical expertise has given us the ability to offer Invisalign to many different patients and still achieve the quality outcome that our patients have been accustomed to.  Invisalign is a series of custom fitted aligners that fit over your teeth and each aligner has a small amount of movement built in.  The material is similar to a retainer but has some stretch, which allows your teeth to move with less discomfort.  Invisalign allows you to address your smile concerns while having minimal impact on your lifestyle and eating habits!  Strickland Orthodontics is South Alabama’s leading Invisalign provider and successfully uses Invisalign to correct minor to very complex bite problems. Please click here if you are interested in learning more about Invisalign care at our office! (http://stricklandorthodontics.com/invisalign)

First impressions are very important in our modern society.  They are not always correct or even fair, but people make judgments of people every day based on a first impression that might only last a few minutes.   Your smile plays an important part of having a great first impression with friends or in a professional setting.  A beautiful and healthy smile gives you confidence and helps others see the real you!

To learn more about our wonderful office and how orthodontic care could improve your smile and first impressions, call us today.

 

The Sleep Benefits of Braces

 

When most people think about getting braces, they think of children and teens with a mouth full of metal. Fortunately, braces have evolved to include other types of braces, including clear ceramic braces and removable aligners, like Invisalign. Our older teen and adult patients now have many great options that are much more esthetic. You can reap all of the benefits of having straight teeth and a properly aligned jaw, including better airflow and a reduction in sleep apnea symptoms as well as a better smile.

How Overbites, Underbites and Crossbites Affect Sleep

If you have an overbite, underbite or crossbite, you may be self-conscious about your appearance and how people perceive you, but your physical appearance is not the only thing affected by a bad bite. In fact, if the condition is severe enough, your breathing may be impacted while you sleep. This can result in extremely loud snoring, difficulty breathing while asleep and sleep apnea in addition to other related health problems.

  • Overbites – An overbite occurs when your upper teeth rest in front of your lower teeth when you close your mouth.
  • Underbites – An underbite occurs when your lower teeth rest in front of your upper teeth when your jaw is closed.
  • Crossbites – A crossbite occurs when your teeth are tilted either towards your cheeks or toward your tongue.

Your Jaw and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted while sleeping.  Sleep apnea can cause a large list of physical and psychological problems for the individual.  While there are three types of sleep apnea, the most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a physical blockage of the airway. One of the ways the airway can become blocked is with an improperly aligned jaw. When your jaw is not properly aligned, it can lead to the tissues of the upper or lower mouth blocking the airway, causing an obstruction. This can lead to the cessation of breathing while sleeping and a decrease in the levels of oxygen in your blood.

Orthodontic care, including braces, has been shown to help treat obstructive sleep apnea by correcting alignment problems with your jaw. When your jaw is properly aligned, your airway is less likely to become obstructed by the tissues in your mouth.

How Braces Can Help Improve Airflow and Sleep

Correcting bite problems and crooked teeth have been proven to help keep your airway clear while you sleep, which can reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea and help you breathe better at night.

Proper Positioning of the Lower Jaw

When your lower jaw is not properly aligned, it can obstruct your airway. This is usually a problem with patients with excess Overjet and their lower jaw is just too small!  Some of your muscles relax while you are sleeping which can narrow the opening of the airway. This can result in not enough air entering your lungs and you will actually stop breathing. When the bite problem is corrected, your airway will be open, and you will have an easier time breathing while you sleep so that you can feel rested and recharged in the morning.  Depending on the severity of the bite problem and the age of the patient, we may use braces alone or may use an oral appliance to help position your jaw forward.  If the problem is severe and you have severe sleep apnea, then having jaw surgery to correct the severe skeletal alignment is the best way to get the healthiest benefit from the treatment.

Easier Breathing Through the Nose

If you have a narrow upper arch, you may also have a narrow passage in your nose.  Depending on how your nose/sinus is shaped, this could be having a significant negative effect on your ability to breath easily.  Having an expander (RPE) will cause your upper jaw to increase in size and this will also increase the air volume of your sinus.  If the anatomy of your sinus was causing a negative effect on your ability to breath, having an expander will likely improve your able to breathe through your nose while you sleep. This can improve airflow and reduce snoring while helping to alleviate some of the other symptoms of sleep apnea.

Reduced Jaw Stress

Having a misaligned jaw and teeth can put stress on your jaw. You may even notice an increase in teeth grinding or clenching. This can cause jaw and neck pain as well as headaches. If you have these symptoms at night, you may have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Using braces to correct misalignments can reduce your jaw stress.

Choosing the Right Braces for Maximum Benefits

At Strickland Orthodontics, we can help you determine if braces would help you sleep better.  This is especially true if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and wear a CPAP device and are interested in a more permanent solution for this problem.  If we determine that you would benefit from orthodontic care to correct the alignment of your teeth and jaws, we can help you choose which types of braces or aligners would be best for you! If you have sleep apnea, we will work with your medical doctor to ensure we help provide you with the best care and final outcome.  If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea but are concerned with your trouble sleeping and have signs of sleep apnea, we can help refer you for a sleep study and can make recommendations on what treatment would be best for you!

To learn more about how braces can do more for your overall health than simply straightening your smile, give us a call today at 251-928-9292 or visit our website at http://stricklandorthodontics.com

5 Things About White Spot Lesions

Chances are, you have seen someone or know someone who has chalky, opaque-looking spots on their teeth: Maybe you have them and would like to know what they are and where they came from. Well, there are several things that can cause these spots on the teeth, which are referred to as white spot lesions. White spot lesions can occur due to excess fluoride intake at a very young age, nutritional issues, poor oral hygiene or they can be a familial trait (inherited). Some people develop white spot lesions during orthodontic treatment; however, these lesions can be prevented. In this article, we will address white spot lesions as they relate to orthodontic treatment.

5 Things About White Spot Lesions

1. What are White Spot Lesions?

In reference to orthodontic treatment, if plaque remains along the gum line and around the brackets due to improper flossing and brushing, white spots can develop. Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for everyone; however, proper oral hygiene is critical for individuals undergoing orthodontic treatment.

2. What Actually Causes These Lesions?

As you eat and drink, the level of acidity (pH) in your mouth can fall below 5.5. At this level, cavities can begin developing. If you do not properly brush and floss, the plaque remains around the braces and decalcification begins. This decalcification, which is the first step of the decaying process, causes the white marks to appear.

3. During Orthodontic Treatment, White Spot Lesions Can be Prevented

The good news is that white spots can be prevented. There are numerous techniques, products and specialized brushing devices available to help prevent these bothersome discolorations on the teeth.

What You Can Do

  • Brush and Floss Regularly – Firstly, always brush your teeth properly, especially at bedtime. Otherwise, the sticky plaque that developed throughout the day will lie along your gum line and around your braces all night long. Floss on a regular basis to remove plaque buildup and food particles between your teeth. Although white spot lesions are not very noticeable between the teeth, they can still be an issue.
  • Avoid Certain Foods and Beverages – Reduce the amount of acidic foods and drinks you consume. Acidic foods and drinks include; citrus fruits, vinegar-based foods, sour candy, sports drinks, orange juice and soda. Eating these foods and drinking these beverages regularly increases your risk of developing white mark lesions.
  • Use Specialized Brushing Devices and Products – An electric toothbrush does a great job preventing plaque buildup: An electric toothbrush does a better job than a water flosser does. Depending on your individual brushing habits and needs, Dr. Strickland may order you a prescription fluoride rinse or toothpaste.

4. At-home Treatments for White Spot Lesions

  • Prescription Paste – White spots can be prevented and treated with the prescription product MI Paste (CPP-ACP). This product is revolutionizing the way that orthodontists and dentists prevent, and treat white spot lesions. The active ingredient in this paste is Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP). Since the ACP crystallizes to form apatite, which is the mineral content of teeth, this product has been referred to as ‘a tooth in a bottle.’ Casein phosphopeptides (CPP) stabilizes the ACP while it is still within the tube. In addition, CPP increases the amount of phosphorous and calcium in plaque, which may help fill the microscopic holes (remineralize) responsible for these white spots. Both CPP-ACP and fluoride remineralize the tooth’s surface; however, CPP-ACP remineralizes the tooth slowly and may have the ability to penetrate deeper into the tooth than fluoride.
  • Chew Trident Xtra Care Gum – Once your braces have been removed, chew Trident Xtra Care: This gum is recommended because it contains CPP-ACP.

5. In-office Procedures to Treat White Spot Lesions

  • Fluoride Treatments – Fluoride gels are extremely effective in addressing white spots. Fluoride varnish is another in-office treatment that is used to treat white spot lesions. The best results are attained when the fluoride varnish is applied two to four times a year. This varnish can be applied throughout treatment, even before the braces are removed.
  • Microabrasion – This technique is used to restore damaged enamel just below the tooth’s surface. When addressing mild white spot lesions, microabrasion is the best solution.
  • Restoration – Restoration involves resurfacing the tooth with another material. Some of the techniques used to resurface the tooth include composite bonding, resin infiltration and porcelain veneers.

For your convenience, Strickland Orthodontics has five locations throughout southern Alabama. If you are looking for an orthodontist who can provide you with the most recent products and innovative techniques available in the world of Orthodontics, contact us today at 251-928-9292. At Strickland Orthodontics, we are dedicated to helping our patients attain the beautiful smile that they deserve.

Why Are Mouth Guards Such a GREAT Investment?

Most parents agree that they will do almost anything to help protect their young athletes, including using bubble wrap!  Usually this comment is made halfway joking but halfway wishing we could actually do this. Fortunately there are better options than just bubble wrap and we will discuss why mouthguards can play such a big role in keeping your star healthy and in the game!

Why are mouthguards important and what do they do?

Spring is in the air, the weather is warming up, and sports are now in full swing!  Let’s make sure we make the most of the season and stay safe! Mouthguards are incredibly effective at protecting the athlete and have been shown to reduce injuries just as much as helmets!   The American Dental Association (ADA) found that individuals are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard when playing a contact sport or rigorous physical exercise.  They also found that 1 out of 10 athletes will experience head/facial injury each year.   These injuries can be very costly in terms of finances as well as permanent damage to the individual.

Most people can easily appreciate the benefit that a mouthguard has for the teeth, but mouthguards can also greatly reduce the chances of having concussions.  Mouthguards will help cushion a blow to the face and reduce the impact on the lips, cheeks, jaw and brain!

When Should You Wear a Mouthguard?

Short Answer: Any time you participate in sports!  

Long Answer: Any time you have a chance of getting hit in the face or hitting your face on something.  There are 29 sports that are recommended to wear a mouthguard, and the list is growing.  No need to memorize the list though.  A good rule of thumb to remember is that a mouthguard is a good idea if you wear a helmet or have a chance to get hit in the face! Below is a list of activities and sports that we would encourage you to wear a mouthgurard:

Types of Mouthguards

There are several families of mouthguards and we have different recommendations based on if you are wearing braces or not!  Just remember, the best mouthguard is the one that you will actually wear because they do not protect your teeth if they are in their case!

With Braces

While you are in orthodontic care and wearing braces, you need to be able to have some protection on your upper and lower teeth and your teeth still need to be able to move.  Having coverage on upper and lower gives your cheeks and lips an added level of protection in case you get hit.  “Stock” or non-customized mouthguards usually work best for our braces patients because they will fit over your braces and still allow your teeth to line up.  If you are playing a sport, please let us know and we will give you a mouthguard to wear!

A double guard has a nice level of protection and still allows you to communicate fairly easily with your team!

A full double coverage guard offers the most protection but is a little harder to communicate.  Usually best for sports where high impact in expected.

Without braces

Now that you have your perfect smile it is time to make sure you protect it.  Since we no longer need your teeth to move, having a boil-and-bite or a custom mouthguard will be your best option.   Both of these options are a little smaller and fit the teeth better than the stock options.

Boil-and-Bite

Heated up and then formed around your teeth.

Advantages:

  • Cost Effective
  • Available from sporting good stores
  • Moderate Protection

Disadvantages:

  • Inconsistent thickness
  • Harder to talk/breath in
  • Stock designs

Custom Mouthguard

Formed around a custom mold of your teeth.

Advantages:

  • Most comfort and best protection
  • Adjustable for different sports
  • Very consistent thickness
  • Custom designs

Disadvantages

  • Cost and need for impression

Mouthguard care tips!

A mouthguard is a great investment and here are some tips to help get the most out of them.

  • Always clean them with cool soapy water after use to prevent saliva from drying on it.
  • If needed, use a retainer cleaning solution but never heat it up. This will cause it to deform.
  • Don’t chew on the guard!  This will cause the material to break tear and not fit.
  • Always keep in a case with your name/number on it.

OUR biggest challenge!

Our biggest challenge is making sure individuals will actually wear the mouthguards and this begins with educating coaches, parents, and athletes on the need and benefit of wearing proper protection.  Most people have an initial objection to wearing a mouthguard because they are hard to talk in, uncomfortable or the individual believes there is no benefit because “I will NOT get hurt!” There is also the fact that many kids don’t want to be the only one wearing one and have the negative social pressure.    41% of parents state it is harder to get kids to wear a mouthguard than to eat vegetables without complaining!

A mouthguard can be easy and “Cool” to wear!  People just have to make a commitment to wearing one and make it a habit and then it becomes part of the uniform – just like helmets, shin guards and shoulder pads.

OK, but what could happen if I don’t wear one?

  I hope that I have convinced you of the wonderful benefits of protecting your teeth by wearing a mouthguard but some people always want to know what will happen if they don’t wear one!  Most of the injuries to the teeth are permanent and range from a small chip to complete avulsion (tooth knocked out).  Below are some photos of injuries that are graphic in nature.  Please only click on them if you need extra motivation to wear a mouthguard!!  

  1. Tooth Knocked Out
  2. Intruded Tooth
  3. Jaw Fracture

Brushing and Flossing with Braces

Once you have braces, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is learn to brush and floss your teeth effectively with braces. Since plaque and food particles can easily adhere to the teeth and the brackets, having braces can make oral care more difficult. However, failure to stick to a good oral health routine may result in problems like periodontal disease, decalcification, and gingivitis. Here’s a closer look at some helpful tips you can use when brushing and flossing to keep your oral health in great shape as you wear braces. Our goal is to make sure you have a beautiful and HEALTHY smile!

Tips for Brushing with Braces

Brushing teeth properly is essential when you are wearing braces. Whenever you begin your orthodontic care, we will go over proper brushing technique with you and you should at least be brushing after each meal to keep teeth clean and healthy while you are wearing braces. Food easily collects around your braces, so you need to make sure any food particles are removed after you eat (check out this video – https://youtu.be/stSxK4PG2Hk). It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with water before you begin brushing, since this helps loosen any food particles that are lodged in or around your braces and it makes your job of teeth cleaning much easier. You’ll need to brush the chewing surfaces, inside, and outside surfaces of the teeth. The areas between brackets and gums and those between the wires and your teeth need to be cleaned thoroughly. Otherwise food particles can easily be trapped in these areas, causing problems like gum disease.  

Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene

It’s important to spend plenty of time brushing, since it takes time to get around the wires and brackets. You should spend a minimum of three minutes on your teeth. You should avoid rushing when brushing your teeth to ensure you don’t miss any areas. Always take the time to check all the areas of your mouth and braces after brushing to make sure you don’t miss any areas. We always suggest brushing your teeth before you get tired so that you can make sure your teeth are clean. Below are some tips that will help you keep your teeth in tip-top shape during your orthodontic care.

  • Use a timer. 3 minutes is a long time and most people feel they have been brushing their teeth much longer than they actually have.
  • Be systematic. Brush each area and go from one to another to make sure you don’t skip any surfaces.
  • Check your job with a hand mirror. A hand or makeup mirror will allow you to get a closer look at your teeth and all the teeth and braces should be smooth and shiny. If you look closely and see fuzz then go over that spot again.
  • Harder is NOT better. Treat your teeth like fine jewelry and use a gently touch. Do not scrub them like you are cleaning grout. Brushing too hard can actually damage your gums and teeth!
  • Practice with just water While you are learning the best technique, we suggest using just water for the first half so that you can see what you are doing without the foaming toothpaste and then use the toothpaste for the second half.

Some of the helpful tools that can make brushing and cleaning teeth easier when you have braces include:

  • Soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Interdental toothbrush, also known as a proxy brush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LGIhCG1lvo&feature=youtu.be
  • Quality fluoride toothpaste: We will also suggest a prescription toothpaste if it would be beneficial.
  • Water picks, which use pressurized water to help clean teeth, eliminating trapped bits of food.

Tips for Flossing with Braces

Flossing can already be a bit difficult, but when you add braces to the mix, it’s even more challenging. The wires don’t allow for traditional flossing, but you still need to floss regularly to keep plaque and food particles from staying between teeth. Since it’s so tough to get floss between teeth and the wires when flossing, getting the right tool can be helpful. We give all of our patients an orthodontic floss threaders, which are disposable and inexpensive to purchase. This tool makes it easy for you to pull floss through your teeth above the braces wires, making it easier to get to your gum line. We also give our patients small orthodontic flossers that can make the job a little easier.

Using waxed floss is a great idea too when flossing with braces. If you use non-wax floss, it may catch on your braces, leaving behind pieces of shredded floss. The waxed floss when used with a floss threader will easily sleep between your teeth without as much risk of catching. Our personal favorite is a “tape” style floss that tends to be the easiest to get between braces. While flossing with braces will take you nearly twice as long as it does without braces, it’s essential to stick with this routine daily to prevent oral health problems.

A good fluoride rinse can also be helpful in addition to brushing and flossing your teeth daily. You can easily find fluoride rinses available at the store. If you have any specific concerns you can ask at your next appointment and we will be happy to make a recommendation.  Using the fluoride rinse daily can help offer you even more protection against white spots and cavities while you are wearing braces.

Brushing and flossing are important parts of oral hygiene that can make your orthodontic treatment more successful, so you need to follow these tips to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Please make sure you also keep your regular cleaning appointment with your dentist. While we are both dentists, your dentist and hygienist are experts and monitoring the health of your teeth and gums and it is extremely important to keep your cleaning appointments every 4-6 months.

Having good brushing and flossing techniques and routine during your orthodontic care will greatly help you make sure your teeth are healthy for years to come. Having a wonderful smile is a great blessing but you always have to work hard keeping your teeth healthy so you can enjoy your smile for years to come.

Learn more about braces or schedule an appointment to learn about how you may benefit from orthodontic care, please give us a call.

How Does Soft Tissue Laser Treatment Work?

Soft tissue laser is rapidly becoming mainstream technology in general dentistry practice. It’s easy to use and allows very quick and comfortable procedures for our patients. We use lasers to help provide access for restorative dentistry, develop proper gingival articture and to provide access to impacted teeth. Lasers have been used in dentistry for over two decades. Laser is an acronym that stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Every wavelength has a specific tissue interaction and thermal output. The most common dental lasers include CO2, Nd:YAG, diode and Er:YAG. The laser precisely ablates soft tissue and allows very quick healing and minimal discomfort.

Procedures with Soft Tissue Laser

Lasers can be used for many different uses in dentistry from removing soft tissue, decayed teeth, periodontal treatments, and even whitening teeth! The most common use of a soft tissue laser in our office is for the removal of gum tissue to improve gingival architecture, uncovering an impacted tooth or removal of extra tissue to allow for proper bracket placement.

Your gums are the frame of your smile and teeth. Some people may have extra gum tissue after orthodontic care and establishing proper gingival heights and shape greatly improves smile esthetics. This can also give access to any cosmetic or restorative dentistry that is needed. The removal of soft tissue is very precise and stable which lends to a very predictable outcome!

We also use a laser to gain access to an impacted tooth or a tooth that has extra gum tissue that is preventing proper bracket placement. Both of these procedures can greatly improve the efficiency and precision of your orthodontic care. We are able to remove the extra tissue using only topical anesthesia which prevents the need to have an injection. This is a great win-win for us as well as the patient!

Lasers are very versatile and can be used for a number of important uses in the dental field. Soft tissue laser assisted periodontal treatment is more effective than root planning and scaling alone. It assists in bacterial reduction, biostimulation, and debridement. The laser is placed into the periodontal sulcus and removes affected epithelium. Scaling is performed to remove calculus and built-up plaque from the root surfaces. Lasers can also be used to help during root canal procedures by helping with seeing canals and disinfection.

While the lasers we use in our office are specifically designed to remove just soft tissue, many lasers are designed to even remove tooth structure that is damaged by a cavity. These lasers allow for efficient removal of cavities and have been shown to cause less discomfort and some small cavities can be fixed without needing an injection. For this reason, they have become popular with pediatric dentists.

Have you ever had an ulcer that will not go away? Well, many lasers can be adjusted to cause minimal destruction to the aphthous ulcer and cause an increase in blood flow to the area. This treatment transforms the sore so you do not feel the discomfort and the stimulation greatly increases the rate of healing.

Want whiter teeth? Guess what! Some laser systems can be used to help stimulate and activate whitening agents. These lasers enhance the tooth-bleaching effect that can help your beautiful smile shine even brighter.

Lasers- the Dental Mutli-Tool

I know what you are thinking! Lasers are going to take a stand next to the great wonders like the Swiss Army Knife and duct tape! Well, maybe. Lasers are very versatile and the technology has advanced greatly over the last 20 years and keeps improving. These advancements have allowed lasers to become more effective and more flexible in our modern dental practice.

Some of the pros of soft tissue laser in dentistry include:

  • Less pain and reduction in need for anesthesia
  • Reduce anxiety in patients compared to a dental drill
  • Preservation of a healthier tooth in treatment of cavities
  • Reduced swelling and bleeding during soft tissue treatments
  • Faster healing
  • Less chance of infection

Lasers and Its Application in Orthodontics

Lasers also have a firm place in today’s orthodontics. The use of soft tissue lasers offers many advantages, including esthetic finishing, practice efficiencies and improved oral hygiene. They are certainly tools that will be used in dentistry for years to come. Today, dental lasers  are booming, with new applications for laser treatment continuing to surface in the field of dentistry. As a matter of fact, the future of lasers is now, and dentistry has entered a new era with the application of lasers.  Lasers can just be used in so many different dental procedures and they allow great precision and patient comfort! All around, lasers add a bit of both magic to the science and art of orthodontics.

Why We’re Lucky for Healthy Teeth

If you have healthy teeth and gums, you are quite lucky. Although many people rarely consider their oral health until a problem arises, your dental health has a significant impact on your comfort level and overall wellbeing. Here are a few reasons that you should count yourself as fortunate to have a healthy mouth:

Mastication- The funny word for chewing!

Although you may not think much about the benefits of healthy teeth when it comes to eating, without your teeth, your dietary choices would be quite limited. Each of your teeth serves a purpose. Your molars and premolars are important for grinding your food, and your incisors help tear your food into bite-sized morsels that can fit easily into your mouth.

Once your teeth become unhealthy, chewing can be difficult and painful. You may be relegated to omitting all crunchy, hard or chewy foods from your diet.  Imagine how unsavory it would be to only eat soft or liquefied foods. This can be especially important for a healthy diet. Can you think of some of your favorite foods that would be hard to enjoy without healthy teeth?

Discomfort

Dental problems are often accompanied by discomfort or even pain. Your teeth are comprised of multiple layers. The outermost layer, the enamel, is often the first portion of a tooth to incur damage. When oral bacteria feed on and digest leftover bits of food, they release acid as an end product of their digestion. This acid corrodes the enamel to cause decay.

Decay can easily spread, and over time, if no treatment is received, the deeper layers of the tooth may be affected. As the tooth decay invades the innermost layer of the tooth, which is the pulp, you may start to experience relentless pain.

The pulp of a tooth houses the dental nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. The decay can inflame the nerves, causing chronic pain and necessitating restorative dental care, such as root canal therapy. If a root canal is not performed, the decay tooth may need to be extracted. Our goal is to work closely with your dentist to carefully monitor the health of your teeth to ensure your teeth are beautiful and healthy when you complete your orthodontic care.

Bone Loss

Healthy teeth are not only important for chewing. They are also important for the maintenance of your jawbone density.

The bones of your jaw support your teeth and give structure to your face. However, your jawbones can start to atrophy without regular stimulation. Each time you chew, the bite pressure incurred by your teeth is transferred to your jawbones. This pressure stimulates the production of additional bone cells to maintain the thickness of the bone.

If your teeth are unhealthy, you may find it difficult to chew, and your bone density may decline. This can eventually cause your face to take on a sagging, aged appearance. In addition, your remaining teeth may not rest as securely in the bone, and as a result, they may be more easily lost.

If you have a lost tooth and some of the supporting bone, there are procedures that can be done in conjunction to your orthodontic care that can help restore the missing supporting bone. These restorative procedures can have a wonderful impact on your dental health and facial profile!

Systemic Conditions

The health of your teeth and gums also affects other areas of your body. There is a correlation between the health of your teeth and gums and that of your heart. People who suffer from gum disease are more apt to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Poor oral health is also linked to a higher incidence of dementia. If you have poor oral hygiene and gum disease, you have a higher number of oral bacteria and they can enter your body at any time you have trauma or even if you have any bleeding from flossing. As oral bacteria access other organs of the body through the bloodstream, inflammation can occur. When you are working hard to keep your teeth clean, you are not only protecting your teeth but your whole body as well!

How can you keep your teeth and gums healthy?

There are multiple things that you can do to ensure that your teeth and gums remain in good shape:

  • Brush regularly. You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice daily. It is important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that will not damage your tooth enamel. In addition, small circular strokes should be used, and all exposed crown surfaces should be cleaned. Click here for a video demonstration of the proper technique: https://youtu.be/94eA08mjg0E
  • Floss daily. A toothbrush cannot fully access the areas between your teeth. It is important to remove plaque from the interdental spaces by flossing. String floss is typically used. If you wear braces, it must be paired with a threader to ensure that the floss can be navigated around the wires and brackets of your appliance. We also provide all of our patients with orthodontic flossers that can help make this task easier.  The use of an oral irrigator like a Waterpik is also a good tool to use to help clean the teeth. The concentrated stream of water from the device flushes debris and plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line.
  • Have regular dental cleanings by your dentist and hygienist. Brushing and flossing do not remove tartar from your teeth. The calcified plaque can only be scraped from your teeth using a professional dental tool. These regular visits also ensure your teeth and gums are in tip top shape and if your dentist has any concerns, they can be addressed when they are less severe! This is especially important during orthodontic treatment. Even though we are not a dentist, coming to see your orthodontist for your appointment is not a substitute for a cleaning.

You are lucky to have healthy teeth and to maintain your oral health you will still need to see your dentist regularly!

You are lucky to have healthy teeth, but to maintain your oral health, you will still need to see your dentist regularly.