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Why do I need to get braces, but other people don’t?

January 14th, 2016

One question we often get is, Why do I need to get braces, but other people don’t? You’re not alone. Over four million people in the U.S. wear braces, and 25 percent of these individuals are adults. Issues that require orthodontic attention can be attributed to a number of different factors. Some of these factors are in your control, while others are hereditary. Read on for information on why many people’s teeth grow in crooked and how orthodontics can help.

The growth process

Throughout your childhood, your "baby" teeth fell out one by one, to be replaced by permanent, adult teeth. Although some people's adult teeth grow in at the right angle and with the right spacing, many people's teeth don't.

Teeth may grow in crooked, overlapping, rotated, or twisted. Some people's mouths are too small, which crowds the teeth and causes them to shift into crooked positions. In other cases, a person's upper jaw and lower jaw aren't the same size, causing overbites and underbites.

The different types of disorders that result from teeth that don’t grow in straight are called malocclusions. This word comes from Latin and means "bad bite." In most cases, a "bad bite" isn't anyone's fault; crooked teeth, overbites, and underbites are often inherited traits, just like having brown eyes or big feet.

What causes malocclusions?

Many different factors can contribute to the way your teeth grow in. In some cases, things like dental disease, early loss of baby or adult teeth, some types of medical problems, an accident, or a habit like prolonged thumb sucking can cause the disorders.

Some of the common reasons for crooked teeth include:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue thrusting or improper use of the tongue during speaking and swallowing
  • Premature loss of baby teeth, which causes teeth to drift and shift
  • Poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils

Common hereditary factors:

  • Extra teeth
  • Large teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Wide spaces between teeth
  • Small jaws

Why are malocclusions a problem?

Having crooked teeth isn’t just a cosmetic issue; it can also lead to serious health problems.

Without orthodontic care, teeth can:

  • Interfere with proper chewing. Because chewing is the first part of eating and digestion, it's important that teeth can do the job.
  • Make keeping teeth clean more of a challenge, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
  • Strain the teeth, jaws, and muscles, increasing the risk of breaking a tooth.
  • Cause people to feel self-conscious about how they look.

Dr. Struble and the team offer several treatment options that can help correct malocclusions. Give us a call at (541) 848-6642 to schedule your complimentary consultation.

What’s the best way to floss with braces?

December 16th, 2015

‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, candy canes, and hot chocolate--and for building up mountains of plaque on your teeth! Believe us when we say your trusty little box of dental floss will be your teeth’s best friend this holiday season.

Why should you floss?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it has a chance to harden into plaque. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces.

Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar, a hard mineral deposit that forms on teeth and can only be removed through professional cleaning by a dental professional. When this happens, brushing and cleaning between teeth become more difficult, and gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This condition is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

Which type of floss should I use?

Floss comes in a wide variety of brands, flavors, coatings, and colors, but in the end it does one main job: cleaning the areas in between your teeth. The easy answer to which kind of dental floss is best for you is whatever kind enables you to successfully and regularly clean those areas.

The ADA recommends flossing at least once a day, and you should be prepared to spend about three times as long on your dental routine with braces than without. Flossing with braces can definitely be more challenging, but it is essential that you do so in order to maintain a healthy dental routine to get the most out of your orthodontic treatment.

Tips for flossing with braces:

  1. Use waxed floss or a product specifically designed to clean around your braces, as unwaxed floss can get caught and shred in your braces.
  2. Sliding the floss between the teeth above the wire is a bit like threading a needle. An orthodontic floss threader is an inexpensive and disposable tool available in nearly any store that sells toothbrushes and toothpaste. It is indispensable when flossing teeth with braces because it allows you to pull the floss through the teeth above the wire and reach the gum line.

Don’t wait until New Years to make a habit of flossing daily your new resolution. Start fighting plaque buildup from all those holiday goodies today! And if you have more questions about proper flossing technique and which floss is best for you, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (541) 848-6642.

Your “weird” braces questions answered

November 10th, 2015

Getting braces affects many aspects of daily life. When you come in for your consultation and subsequent visits, you’ll get information on how to take care of them, what to eat, how to keep your teeth clean, etc. But what about those obscure questions you never thought to ask, or were perhaps too embarassed to? We’ve got a few covered--but please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more. Your dental health is our priority!

Can I put charms on my braces?

Unfortunately no. Charms belong on bracelets. If you bite down on the charm, you could damage your braces or your teeth. You could also swallow your jewelry. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your braces! Decorating your braces with colored bands is always an option.

Is it OK to use my teeth as a bottle opener?

While it may seem more convenient and relatively harmless, this is a BIG no. Never use your teeth as a bottle opener. This becomes even more important when you are wearing braces. While braces straighten your teeth, your teeth are moving in the process. That makes them weaker, and the metal in the braces does not make them invincible. Buying a bottle opener is much less expensive than having to replace your braces.

Can I use my braces as a radio?

Contrary to what you might think, your braces are not designed to work as a radio. There are tales of people who have picked up radio signals from dental fillings or braces. While this is remotely possible, attaching an antenna to your mouth is just not a good idea. Besides, you will get better quality music from a radio. (Don’t get any ideas!)

Can I kiss someone while wearing braces?

You can still kiss someone while wearing braces. In fact, even if both of you wear braces, the chances of them getting locked together are almost negligible. However, to avoid cutting your partner’s lips, kiss with caution.

Again, if you have more questions, feel free to ask any of us at Struble Orthodontics. Or, leave your question in the comments!

Which Halloween candy is safe to eat with braces?

October 10th, 2015

We all know Halloween means candy. And even though we sincerely want you to take the bull by the horns, live life to the fullest, carpe diem, all that good stuff, we also would really like to make your orthodontic treatment as quick, painless, and enjoyable as possible. That’s why we’ve put together a list of braces-friendly Halloween candy options for you to take advantage of. The good news is that you can still live it up in the candy department this October while keeping your teeth healthy and your orthodontist happy!

What to watch out for

Certain sweets can cause some serious damage to your teeth and braces, which can delay precious treatment time. Hard candies, chewy candies, caramels, taffy, nutty goodies, jelly beans, licorice, bubble gum, suckers, Tootsie Rolls, and sour candies are some of the foods that can cause havoc for trick-or-treaters who are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Skittles and M&M’s may seem innocent, but those tiny pieces of candy love to slip inside wires and pop off brackets. Better stay away. Furthermore, sour and fruity candies like Starbursts and Skittles are the worst because they are highly acidic, which can wear down the enamel that protects your teeth, paving the way for tooth decay and cavities.

These candies are your friends

Candy such as dark chocolate, sugar-free gum, or anything that contains the sugar substitute xylitol is not as harmful for your teeth as hard, chewy, or sticky sweets. Experts at the American Association of Orthodontists recommend softer treats or melt-in-your-mouth foods. These include:

  • Soft chocolate (Hershey’s Kisses are in the clear!)
  • Peanut butter cups (Go for those Reese’s Cups!)
  • Gelatin treats
  • Ice cream
  • Smoothies
  • Root beer floats
  • Apple cider
  • Cookies and crackers (Just be careful about hardness.)
  • Apples (Great in bite-size pieces! Don’t bite into a candied/caramel apple, but feel free to dip it in sauce.)
  • Kit Kat Bars
  • Three Musketeers
  • Malt Balls
  • Sweet Tarts
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Cookies and Cream
  • Snow Caps

Some extra tips

Staying away from sticky and hard candies this Halloween is the name of the game. In addition to avoiding broken brackets and bent wires, we encourage you to brush and floss between teeth immediately after eating candy, including around brackets and at the gum line, as well as swishing water in your mouth--even “good” candy can cause cavities!

If you happen to damage your braces, give us a call at 541-848-6642 and we can help get your teeth all straightened out again. And from everyone at Team Struble, we hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!

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