Posts for: August, 2015

By Smart Family Dental Care
August 30, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: palatal expander  
PalatalExpansionCouldHeadOffFutureOrthodonticTreatment

People mainly identify orthodontics with braces. But while they’re a major part of it, braces aren’t the only way this important dental specialty can make a difference in a person’s bite.

For example, orthodontics can help guide the development of a younger patient’s facial structure that could head off future upper teeth misalignment. The area of focus is the upper jaw and palate (the roof of the mouth) that jointly make up a structure called the maxilla. The maxilla is actually formed by two bones fused together in the center of the palate along what is known as the midline suture running from front to back in the mouth.

The two bones remain separated until puberty, which helps accommodate rapid structural growth during childhood. But problems can arise if the upper jaw is too narrow, causing a “cross-bite” where the lower back teeth bite abnormally outside the upper ones. This can crowd upper permanent teeth and cause them to erupt improperly.

Using a technique called palatal expansion we can correct this abnormality if we act before the maxillary bones fuse. The technique employs a custom-made appliance called a palatal expander that attaches to the posterior teeth of the upper arch. Expanders have two halves joined by a small screw device to increase tension against the teeth to widen the jaw. A parent or the patient (if old enough) increases the tension by using a special key to turn the adjustment screw a tiny amount each day. This may cause minor discomfort that normally eases in a few minutes.

The patient wears the device until the jaw expands to the desired width and then allows the bones to stabilize in the new position. This can sometimes create a small gap between the upper front teeth, but it often closes on its own or it may require braces to close it.

While palatal expanders are not for every case, they can help normalize development and improve the bite, and thus preclude more extensive orthodontic treatment later. But time is of the essence: after the maxilla has fused, surgery will be necessary to separate them and widen the palate. It’s important then not to delay if your child could benefit from this effective treatment.

If you would like more information on palatal expanders and other orthodontic treatments, 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 “Palatal Expanders.”


By Smart Family Dental Care
August 19, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Flossing  

FlossingDo you floss as often as you need to maintain good oral health? Find out now!

Be honest with yourself and your Norcross dentist Dr. Orson Baek: How often do you actually floss your teeth? If the answer isn’t every day, then you need to reevaluate your oral hygiene. While flossing might not seem as essential to your routine as brushing, think again. Flossing is the best way to clean in those hard-to-reach spots between teeth where your toothbrush can’t always reach. So how can you incorporate it more into your schedule?

The Importance of Flossing

While flossing might not feel as natural as brushing it's certainly just as important for the health of your teeth and gums. While your Norcross dentist can tell you to floss every day, we always have to preface this by saying that it’s less about just performing the action every day and more about actually doing a thorough job cleaning between your teeth and along the gumline. In actuality, if you have poor flossing technique, you could floss multiple times a day and we would never be able to tell!

When should I floss?

This seems to be a popular and heavily debated question. Of course, the answer is: it depends on what works best for you! After all, we want you to spend enough time flossing every day, so follow the routine that works for you and your schedule.

This also includes deciding if you should floss before or after you brush your teeth. There is the belief that if you floss before you brush you can dislodge food and plaque stuck in between teeth that your brush can then remove more effectively. This is still up for debate. Again, as long as you're flossing, that’s all that really matters for the health of your smile!

How long should I floss?

This will depend on how often you’ve been flossing and how familiar you are with this habit. Those who’ve been flossing for a while may find it only takes a minute or two, while someone new to flossing may want to take their time and pay attention to the technique involved. There is no proper amount of time needed to floss, just however long it will take to thoroughly clean between all of your teeth.

If you are an avid flosser, your Norcross dentist commends you on your optimum oral health! Just remember, your oral care isn’t complete unless you are also following up with us every six months for professional cleanings and exams. If it’s time for your biannual visit, call Smart Family Dental Care. In the meantime pick up that floss and start protecting the health of your smile today.


By Smart Family Dental Care
August 15, 2015
Category: Oral Health
NoGleeinToothGrinding

Sure, it’s big news when celebs tweet selfies from the dental office… if you’re still living in the 20th century. But in Hollywood today, it’s harder to say who hasn’t posted snaps of themselves in the dentist’s chair than who has. Yet the pictures recently uploaded to Twitter by Mark Salling, the actor and singer who regularly appears as Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the popular TV series Glee, made us sit up and take notice.

“Getting my chipped tooth fixed. Also, apparently, I’m a big grinder,” read the caption. The photo showed a set of upper front teeth with visible chips on the biting surface. What’s so special about this seemingly mundane tweet? It’s a great way of bringing attention to a relatively common, but often overlooked problem: teeth clenching and grinding, also called bruxism.

Although bruxism is a habit that affects scores of people, many don’t even realize they have it. That’s because the condition may only become active at night. When the teeth are unconsciously ground together, the forces they produce can wear down the enamel, cause chipping or damage to teeth or dental work (such as veneers or fillings), or even loosen a tooth! While it’s common in children under 11 years old, in adults it can be a cause for concern.

Sometimes, mouth pain, soreness and visible damage alert individuals to their grinding habits; other times, a dental professional will notice the evidence of bruxism during an exam or cleaning: tooth sensitivity and telltale wear and tear on the chewing surfaces. Either way, it’s time to act.

Bruxism is most often caused by stress, which can negatively impact the body in many ways. It may also result from bite problems, the overuse of stimulating substances (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs), and as a side effect of certain medications. Sometimes, simply becoming aware of the habit can help a person get it under control. Common methods of stress reduction include exercise, meditation, a warm bath or a quiet period before bedtime; these can be tried while we monitor the situation to see if the problem is going away.

If stress reduction alone doesn’t do the trick, several other methods can be effective. When bruxism is caused by a minor bite problem, we can sometimes do a minor “bite adjustment” in the office. This involves removing a tiny bit of enamel from an individual tooth that is out of position, bringing it in line with the others. If it’s a more serious malocclusion, orthodontic appliances or other procedures may be recommended.

When grinding is severe enough to damage teeth or dental work, we may also recommend a custom-made night guard (occlusal guard), which you put in your mouth at bedtime. Comfortable and secure, this appliance prevents your teeth from being damaged by contacting each other, and protects your jaw joints from stresses due to excessive grinding forces.

Whether or not you have to smile for a living, teeth grinding can be a big problem. If you would like more information about this condition, call our office to schedule a consultation for a consultation.