You’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but it’s more true with your teeth than anything else. Sugary, acidic, and processed foods can all cause tooth decay, and create some expensive trips to your dentist’s office. So, what should you eat instead?
Straight teeth are beautiful, but did you know that they also present some serious health benefits? From reducing your risk of contracting heart disease to improving your mindset, straight teeth can do a lot more than just make your selfie smile as stunning as possible. Here are five surprising health benefits of having straight teeth:
Braces: some of us wanted them, some of us didn’t, some of us were lucky enough to never think twice about them.
Regardless of what side of the aisle you fall on, though, it’s your responsibility as a parent to help your child adapt if he or she requires braces. No matter what your child is thinking about braces, you likely have many concerns and questions of your own.
How will you pay for the braces? How long will the child have to wear them? How do you make sure the braces fit your child’s teeth?
Here’s a complete breakdown of everything you need to know to ensure your child’s braces are up to snuff.
Why Kids Need Braces as They Grow
First things first, why do kids need braces? The answer, as it turns out, is varied. Kids need braces for a wide assortment of reasons, including overcrowded, overlapping, and crooked teeth, or a mismatched bite (also know as malocclusion).
Malocclusion happens when there is a marked difference in the size of the top and bottom jaws, or when the upper jaw is larger than the lower jaw. This latter condition is known as an overbite. Underbites, on the other hand, happen when the mouth lower jaw is bigger.
In some cases, a child needs braces because they’ve lost their baby teeth too soon, because they’ve had an accident that impacted the alignment of the teeth, or because they’re suffering from a bad dental habit, like thumb sucking or extended pacifier use.
In most cases, a child’s dentist is the first person to realize they need braces. Orthodontists can identify jaw or teeth alignment issues and decide whether a child needs braces and, if so, what kind of braces will work best for your child’s mouth.
While children typically get braces at a young age, there’s no set age for the first braces application. In some cases, children get braces when they’re six, ten, or fifteen. As a child grows older, issues like uneve bites and overcrowding become progressively more apparent, so it’s common for teenagers to have braces to correct dental issues.
The First Orthodontist Visit
If you suspect your child may need braces, the first thing you can do is take your child to the orthodontist. During this first visit, the orthodontist will do a general overview of your child’s mouth. He or she might ask your child to close their mouth, bringing their teeth together, and may ask if the child has issues chewing, swallowing, or ever experiences clicking or popping in their jaw.
After asking these questions, the orthodontist may order some new or updated X-rays of your child’s mouth. These x-rays will identify the position of teeth, and determine if the child has permanent teeth that haven’t come in yet. In some cases, the orthodontist may also order molds or impressions of your child’s teeth, which can allow the orthodontist to determine which treatment options will be most effective, and figure out which braces fit will work best for your child.
The Types of Braces Children May Wear
Braces work to correct alignment issues by creating steady pressure, which shifts the teeth into the correct position over an extended time. For braces to do their job correctly, though, they need to fit as well as possible.
The way they fit, of course, depends on what kind of braces they are. Most children need braces that use wires, rubber bands, and brackets to attach to teeth. In this type of brace setup, the wire tightens gradually, which helps line teeth up properly and solve alignment issues. These braces are also popular because rubber bands come in dozens of bright colors, which children get to choose.
If your child doesn’t get metal braces, clear or white ceramic braces are an option. These braces are much noticeable, and some may even sit behind teeth. The latter are known as lingual braces.
There are often transparent, removable braces that align teeth with the help of plastic trays known as aligners, instead of wires or rubber bands. These are available, but are only right for some types of dental issues.
In some cases, depending on your child’s needs, additional devices may be required. Headgear that is worn at night is one option, as it can provide more force to move teeth and expedite the resolving of dental issues.
How to Care for Braces
No matter what kind of braces your child wears, you’ll have to care for them. This can provide a serious hurdle for kids and parents. After all, if you never had braces yourself, it can be tough to figure out how to care for them on your child’s teeth. Fortunately, it’s not an impossible question to solve. Here are a few must-dos for long-term braces care:
Floss daily. Braces may help realign teeth, but they add structures to the teeth that can make it easier for tiny food particles to become trapped in the teeth and cause cavities and decay. With this in mind, it’s essential to floss daily around braces. A dentist can provide a special flosser designed to fit into the spaces between braces. Routine dental cleanings and checkups are also essential.
Avoid certain foods. Popcorn, sticky or hard candy, sugary juices, gum, and sodas all contribute to dental decay, which means that children with braces should avoid them as much as possible. If your child wears clear plastic aligners, they should take them off when it’s time to eat.
Take OTC pain relievers for discomfort. Braces create traction in the mouth, they can (and will) feel uncomfortable at times. This is especially true after the child has visited the orthodontist for adjustments. Fortunately, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help cut down on some of this discomfort.
See your dentist at any sign of loose wires or brackets. If your child’s braces have a loose wire or bracket, or anything at all is sticking into the child’s mouth and causing pain, see the dentist right away. If the orthodontist doesn’t identify any problems, your child can use orthodontic wax to cover sharp spots on the braces and prevent them from rubbing up against the gums or inside of the mouth.
Finding the Right Fit for Braces
The final consideration for braces is to find a fit that works for your child. This is easier said than done, and requires the assistance of your dentist and orthodontist. When it comes to considering fit, you want to make sure you find something that fits your child’s physical mouth structure, as well as their lifestyle.
While bracket and wire braces are still the most popular options out there for children, there are many reasons they may not work for your child. As such, it’s essential to work closely with your dentist to ensure that the braces you choose suit your child’s teeth, growth, and lifestyle. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your orthodontist to clarify.
Braces and Kids: A Smarter Approach
If your child needs braces, you likely have many questions. Fortunately, there are lots of answers out there. By understanding which braces options are right for your kids, and how to care for these options, you can ensure a healthy mouth and a long life of good dental care for your child.
Does your child need braces? Contact our team today to schedule your braces consultation and information session!
If you’ve ever experienced a nagging, painful headache, you know how frustrating the experience can be. When the discomfort doesn’t go away, it becomes difficult to get much of anything done.
Sleeping is hard, talking hurts, working on your computer can be excruciating, and just going through the motions of daily life can suddenly become a major chore.
Unfortunately for many people, getting to the root of these headaches is commonly easier said than done.
Luckily, we’re here to share with you a possibility that few people have thought of before: could your nagging headaches be linked to dental pain?
Here’s what you need to know:
When Headaches Have Something to Say About Your Oral Health
Headaches and oral health often go hand-in-hand. Because headaches and toothaches transmit through the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest sensory nerve in the head, and which supplies the teeth, scalp, jaw, external face, and internal facial structures with feeling, pain can travel across branches and activate other segments of the nerve when pain is sustained or severe.
This is how pain that is initially centered in the muscles or nerves throughout the face and neck can go on to cause a negative feedback loop, which triggers the jaw and can cause neck pain, or vice-versa. When pain becomes chronic and sustained, it can lead to a headache. Alternately, sustained toothache can easily trigger episodic headaches that become migraines over the long-term.
Even if the pain you feel in your head isn’t coming directly from a toothache, it can come from reflexive behavior centered around your face and jaw, such as jaw clenching or muscle tightening, which can cause or exacerbate pain and lead to ongoing headaches.
Because the orofacial and craniocervical systems are quite interconnected, you can clench your teeth and contract your neck muscles inadvertently and create an ongoing headache, as a result.
When head and face pain come from tooth or jaw joint injuries, it’s often because a patient is clenching or grinding the teeth for long periods of time. This causes damage to the tissues surrounding the teeth. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for physicians to identify where the pain is coming from. Because of this, it’s wise to see a dentist who can decipher dental and orofacial pain and help you create a plan for relief
Dental Problems That Trigger Headache Pain
Oral health andheadaches can and often are related. In fact, many chronic headache situations are caused by conditions that can only be treated by a dentist. Here are a few of the most common problems that cause headache pain:
Cavities and infections. Simple cavities and infections can and often do trigger headache pain. In most cases, the headaches associated with dental problems arise from tension, which results from muscle strain present in the mouth and jaw. These headaches are typically a dull pain that arises on one or both sides of the head and wraps all the way around. These are common among people who grind their teeth at night.
Misaligned bite. If your bite is off, the muscles around your mouth have to work harder to chew food effectively. This results in muscle strain that can become constant and cause ongoing pain. As pain starts in one branch of the nerve, it can spread to other branches, leading to pain that radiates throughout the head, behind the eyes, through the temples, or across the forehead.
Tooth grinding. If you grind your teeth at night, you overwork your jaw muscles, which causes problems within the jaw joint. This is often characterized by popping or clicking in the jaw joint, and can go on to cause headaches, migraines, and ongoing pain, as well as the destruction of the tooth surface.
Resolving Headaches Caused by Dental Pain
Think you have to live forever with the excruciating headaches caused by dental pain? Think again. According to the American Migraine Foundation, there are dozens of ways to resolve these headaches and get your life back to normal. Some of the best options include the following:
Lifestyle changes. Changing your lifestyle is the simplest way to resolve dental-caused headaches. If you chew on your fingernails, pens, cheeks, or lips, put an end to these habits now. Even something as simple as holding your cell phone against your jaw can cause unneeded stress and pressure, and may trigger a headache. You may also want to avoid chewing gum or eating foods that are crunchy, sticky, or hard to chew.
Cut up food. If the motion of opening your mouth large enough to take a bite out of a big, juicy hamburger hurts, start cutting up your food. Instead of taking a bite out of a whole apple, cut it up into bite-sized pieces. The more effectively you can avoid opening your mouth too widely, the less likely it is you’ll continue to suffer from dental headaches.
Make your yawns smaller. When you yawn, be conscious about reducing the width of your mouth opening. Relax your teeth and keep them separated as you hold your face in a neutral position. If your jaw feels cramped up after a yawn, practice some gentle stretching exercises to keep it limber.
Consider a mouth guard. If you clench your teeth while you sleep, talk to your dentist about having a custom-made mouthguard fashioned. Not only will this protect your dental surface, but it can reduce the stress on your jaw. ou have a habit of clenching, you will clench while asleep as well.
Consider massage. Just like a good massage can release achy back muscles, it may work wonders for achy jaws and teeth. If this appeals to you, look for a massage therapist that specializes in TMJ and can help you resolve your dental issues.
You Don’t Have to Live With Jaw Pain
If you’ve been living with dental-caused headaches or migraines for years, there is relief in sight. While these conditions are uncomfortable and painful, they are also fixable. By doing simple things, like changing your lifestyle, investing in massage, having a dental guard made for sleeping, or even cutting food into small pieces, you can combat much of the discomfort associated with dental headaches, and get back to living a comfortable, pain-free life.