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Getting Smart About Wisdom Teeth

July 1st, 2017


Many times either during or after your orthodontic treatment, we will recommend having your wisdom teeth evaluated by an oral surgeon or your dentist. You may not be feeling any discomfort so this may seem mysterious, but there are sound reasons why we may suggest this. Your wisdom teeth (also called the third molars) are typically the last teeth to come in. For most of you, you are undergoing orthodontic treatment because your teeth are already crowded. In other words your jaws are not big enough to accommodate all of your teeth! If your wisdom teeth can’t erupt fully, they will continue to grow under the gums and either become stuck or lean into and push against the roots of the second (12 year) molars.

Even before starting orthodontic treatment, we use your 3-D scan and panoramic radiograph to see if your wisdom teeth are there and determine if they will have enough room to come in. We can usually make this determination before the second molars have fully erupted! At the conclusion of your treatment, your final radiograph is evaluated and a copy is sent to your dentist for review. At that time, we usually ask your dentist to help guide you as to the correct time to have your wisdom teeth removed if indicated.

Having these extra teeth trapped under your gums can result in infection, the formation of cysts, and may play a role in the return of crowding. Our philosophy is that if these teeth are not going to have enough room to come in, they should be removed prior to full root formation. For most people this means having the teeth removed during their teen years. We will be happy to refer you to an oral surgeon and provide them with a copy of your most panoramic radiograph or 3-D image.

Traveling with Braces

June 15th, 2017


Summer time usually means vacation time. We hope each of you gets to enjoy a little time away this summer. Whether it’s a camping trip, going to the beach, or an exciting adventure far from home, be sure to you remember your braces when you are away. Keep in mind that true orthodontic emergencies are very rare. When they do occur they can cause discomfort or even unwanted tooth movements that may lengthen the time you’re in treatment.

If you’re out of town and unable to come to the office, you should call our office to have one of our staff members assist you. Sometimes reassurance is all that is needed until you come back home. On the other hand, sometimes while you’re away you may need to see an area orthodontist for assistance. During summer months it’s not unusual for us to see patients vising our area who need to have a wire clipped or replaced. You’ll find that most orthodontic offices are happy to assist with these types of problems, often without charge.

Here are a few items you should be certain to take with you:
• Your trusty toothbrush, proxy brush, flossers and fluoride toothpaste:
• Orthodontic Wax
• Rubber bands or headgear when indicated

Here are a few tips for dealing with emergencies while traveling
• Loose band or bracket: If it’s still attached to the wire, leave it in place and apply wax if necessary.
• Loose wire: Try to put it back into place with tweezers. If you’re not able to re-insert the wire, clip it with fingernail clippers behind the last tooth to which it is still fastened, and use wax if the wire is poking.
• Poking wire: Try to push it down using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-tip, and place wax if needed.
• Loose appliance: Place wax on it to keep appliance intact until you return.

These tips should help you while you’re away on vacation. If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to call.

Help!!! My Teeth Look Worse

June 1st, 2017

Does this sound familiar?...  You just got your new braces on last week.  At first you think you are imagining things, but you think your teeth are getting worse! You may have a gap where there wasn’t one before and now one of your lower front teeth is more crooked than when treatment started.  Is this normal?

Straightening the teeth is a dynamic process; your teeth will be changing throughout treatment. During the process of alignment, especially during the first 6 months, you may notice that things look worse before they look better. Here’s why:

Although your teeth may be crooked or spaced out when you start treatment, they have usually drifted into a position where they are stable and functional. Your body is amazing at adapting to problems that exist. If you have a lower jaw that is smaller than the upper for example, the top teeth will be pushed back by your upper lip and your lower teeth will be pushed forward by your tongue. We call these “dental compensations”. If the teeth are crowded, the crowding is usually spread evenly among the teeth.

Orthodontic treatment takes place in stages. The first stage is to align your teeth. If you have teeth removed, you may notice improvements in the appearance of your teeth right away. If you do not, you may actually notice changes in the alignment of your teeth that temporarily make them look worse. This is completely normal and necessary since all of the teeth cannot straighten at once.  If you have crowding that is treated without extractions, your jaws must reshape and grow to accommodate all of your teeth… and this takes time!  In the process of removing dental compensations, you will also notice changes in your bite.  These changes in your bite are normal and should be anticipated.

Once your crowding is resolved, or conversely, your spaces are closed, the next step is to level the arches. If you start with a deep bite, the goal is to “open the bite” so that your lower teeth are more visible. If you start with an open bite, we’ll want to deepen the bite so the top teeth overlap the bottom ones. About the same time we address the vertical relationship, we also work to make the width of the upper and lower arches match (coordinate the arches).

The final stage of treatment is to optimize the relationship front to back relationship of the molars and incisors… in other words, your overjet. This may be done with rubber bands or other appliances and can often be the most frustrating part of treatment for most patients. This is typically when we start hearing “When will I be getting my braces off?”

Understanding this sequence will give you an idea of where you are in your treatment. Knowing that there will be transitional changes along the way that may actually make things look or feel worse before they look and feel better will make you more confident that your treatment is going as expected.

Elastic Tie Horoscope

May 15th, 2017

One exciting part about getting braces here at Peninsula Orthodontics is choosing the colors of your elastic ties that secure your wires to your braces. These ties may be individual or connected, depending on your mouth’s needs. You have the option of choosing the color of your elastic ties, which are changed about every 6 to 8 weeks at each visit.

Children, teens and even adults often enjoy picking different colors each visit to express their creativity.  Decorating your mouth with colors is fun and takes some of the stress out of wearing braces. Adults who wish for subtlety can choose colors that blend in with their metal or clear brackets.

Common Color Combinations for Elastic Ties

With individual elastic ties for each bracket, you may choose different color combinations for special events. You can have alternating colors or place an entire rainbow over your teeth. Here are a few options to consider:

  • School spirit colors
  • Favorite sports team colors
  • Patriotic colors
  • Holiday themes
  • One color to match your mood or personality.

What Your Colors Says About You

  • Red tones indicate that you are ready for action and take charge of your life with assertive, forward-thinking steps.
  • Blue tones are calm and relaxing. You are conservative and exhibit integrity when dealing with situations.
  • Green tones represent growth and balance. You are level-headed and look for opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually.
  • Purple tones attract creative energies. You like to have fun and use your imagination in every aspect of your life.
  • Orange tones indicate that you are optimistic and thrive in social situations where communication is open.
  • Pink is a romantic color that represents a caring personality. You also enjoy having fun with silly games and endless laughter.