Posts for: June, 2014
Metal braces for correcting teeth alignment have long been a fixture of adolescence. But although they're effective, they tend to put a crimp on a teenager's life with changes in diet and irritation and discomfort from the devices and regular adjustments. For many teens, though, these are minor compared to the change in their appearance that comes with traditional braces, and the embarrassment they may feel.
In recent years, there's been a growing use of another orthodontic device that reduces many of these inconveniences, especially regarding appearance. Known as the clear aligner, this transparent, “almost invisible” device can be taken out for eating, cleaning or important social events.
Clear aligners are a sequential set of clear trays made of polyurethane plastic that are generated for an individual patient using information derived from x-rays, photographs or models. Each tray in the sequence is slightly different from the previous one to account for the tooth movement achieved wearing the previous tray. The patient will wear a tray for about two weeks and then, if all looks well, move to the next tray. This process continues until the teeth arrive at the proper alignment, a period of about six to twenty-four months depending on the patient's initial condition and their progress.
Up until recently, aligners were a viable option for a limited category of patients, mainly adults. Recent advances have changed that. Aligners now include tiny “power ridges” that enable them to move teeth in more than one plane, something previous versions were unable to do. “Eruption tabs” can also be incorporated into aligner sets to hold the space for permanent teeth that haven't erupted yet — a must for many younger patients. We can also temporarily bond attachments to the teeth known as buttons (made with a composite that blends in with the natural tooth color) that give more leverage and stability to the aligner.
With these changes, clear aligners are now an effective choice for a wider group of patients, including many teens. Aligners are comfortable to wear, easy to care for, and for teens acutely conscious of their appearance, less obtrusive than traditional metal braces.
If you would like more information on clear aligners, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners for Teens.”
Advancements in dentistry have created an abundant source of treatments for restoring health and vitality to diseased teeth and gums. Unfortunately, not all of these treatment options may be in your financial reach. Fortunately, there are some affordable restorative options, as well as cost-effective treatments that could buy you time until you can afford a more permanent solution.
Your first step is a dental examination to evaluate your current oral health and possible future treatment needs. If you’re not already showing symptoms of tooth decay or gum disease, we would evaluate your probable risk for future disease development. Risk assessment enables us to recommend a prevention strategy that is relatively inexpensive and may save you on more expensive dental procedures in the future.
If the examination reveals some current problems, it may be necessary to prioritize. Painful or abscessed teeth are a dental emergency and should be treated as soon as possible. Other conditions, like mild gum disease would be next in line; however, a word of warning: the longer you postpone treatment for many of these conditions, the greater the likelihood of subsequent bone and tooth loss, which will lead to more extensive — and expensive — treatment.
There are also new alternatives to traditional treatments that are less costly but still have many of the benefits. For example, less-costly glass — or resin-based fillers are becoming a popular option for restoring decayed or damaged teeth. Though not quite as durable as more expensive options, these new materials are life-like in appearance and work well on repair sites on non-biting surfaces.
You should also look to one other resource for managing the costs of dental care — us, your dental team. While we want your teeth and gums to be as healthy as possible, we also understand “wallet” issues. We can work with you on financial matters to ensure you’re getting the effective care you need, including payment plans for more expensive treatment processes, working with your dental insurance plan, and recommending affordable treatment options.
The key is to develop a long-term care plan targeted to your individual dental needs. Knowing where we need to go — and adapting treatment strategies that match your resources — will help you get the best dental care you can afford.
If you would like more information on dental care treatment options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cost-Saving Treatment Alternatives.”
Do you ever find yourself thinking, “My smile would be near perfect if only?” If your answer is yes, come and see us to discuss some of the most advanced cosmetic treatment procedures available to give you a more dazzling smile in the shortest amount of time. Almost anything is possible from simple whitening procedures to a complete smile makeover, which may include repositioning your teeth with orthodontics and changing tooth shape and color with porcelain laminate veneers, to name a few options.
Before your visit, make a list of all of the things that you would like changed or improved. Being able to effectively communicate your desires to us will help immensely as we work together on your smile makeover. Although we may have a different opinion on what may actually be possible based on your dental and oral health, simply knowing how you define “your” ideal smile can be a good starting point.
For example, have you thought about and answered the following questions:
- Do you think your teeth or gums show too much or too little when you smile?
- What do you like and dislike? Are you unhappy with the size, shape or position of your teeth?
- Do you have unsightly gaps between some or all of your teeth?
- Do you think your smile would be improved if your teeth were whiter?
Providing us with a clear picture of all the things you like or don't like about your current smile will help guide the process. Even a picture of a smile that you like of a younger you or even torn from the pages of a celebrity magazine could be helpful. During our initial consultation, we will take all the dental records necessary for a cosmetic evaluation and smile enhancement. We can then compare your actual results to your “wish list” to ascertain how close we can get to your ideal smile and even create a computer-generated image of what we can achieve.
If you think you are ready to change your smile, call us today. For further information on the importance of having a clear vision plan that both patient and dentist agree upon, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations: Is What You Get What You Want?”