Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy (and dentally safe) Halloween!

While dentists and orthodontists have a professional conflict with Halloween, we also know that holiday snacks are a fact of life.  Here are some suggestions to enjoy a fun and dentally safe Halloween:

Before going out trick-or-treating, try to ensure your children eat a good, hearty meal so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy. 

Tooth decay occurs when candy and other sweets mix with bacteria in the sticky plaque that constantly forms on teeth to produce acid, which can wear away enamel.  Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because not only are they high in sugar, but they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down.    Hard candies are tough on teeth as well because kids tend to suck on them at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time.

The majority of dentists who hand out candy choose chocolate because when it comes to teeth and sugar, it's really a matter of time. Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.

At the end of the night, it's a good idea to remove the sticky, gummy and chewy choices from your child's candy haul.  And remember: the worst thing a kid can do is go to bed without brushing after gorging on the night's loot.

And last but not least, promote good oral health care habits to your children year-round by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, daily flossing and regular dental checkups.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is Phase II always necessary after Phase I?

Because orthodontic care is not a “one size fits all” approach, not all patients need or will benefit from a two-phase orthodontic treatment.  Each patient has a unique problem that requires an unique, individualized treatment plan.  In fact, most children do not need Phase I orthodontic treatment and can actually wait until most or all permanent teeth are present.

When early orthodontic intervention is not necessary, careful monitoring of growth, development and observation of the eruption of the adult permanent teeth will allow me to make the call of when treatment start is ideal to obtain the best bite and smile possible in the timeliest manner.

After the completion of Phase I orthodontic treatment, usually a period of retention of the obtained results and observation will follow.  If no long-term risks are associated with not continuing with Phase II treatment, the orthodontist will make it optional and elective for the parents of a child who just underwent Phase I orthodontic treatment.  While this is not typical, it is quite possible.

For some kids that need Phase I orthodontic treatment, however, the problems that are being addressed are extensive, and full correction may not be attained until treatment moves on to Phase II.  The most common problems that usually do require two-phase orthodontic treatment are severe crowding being treated without extraction of permanent teeth, “underbites” and severe “overbites.”