Westfield's Dental Department

Posts for: December, 2013

ActressFlorenceHendersonYouAreNeverTooOldToStraightenYourTeeth

Florence Henderson has inspired generations of people through her portrayal of America's most beloved TV mother, Carol Brady, on one of the longest running situational comedies, The Brady Brunch. Today Florence is still a role model but for a much different audience: senior citizens.

Henderson created the FloH Club as an organization to assist senior citizens with understanding and embracing technology, as she described in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine. “I was inspired to create the FloH Club because of my own fear of technology and because I didn't want to keep asking my children for help,” she said.

And while Henderson was blessed with naturally straight teeth and has had no cosmetic work done, she is not opposed to it. “I wouldn't care how old I was, if I had misaligned teeth or felt I needed cosmetic dentistry I would certainly do it!”

One teeth-straightening option many adults consider is clear orthodontic aligners. They are an excellent way for self-conscious adults to align their teeth without feeling that they will appear as an awkward “brace-faced” youth — a look that is commonplace for the teenage years.

But what are clear aligners? They are an alternative system to traditional braces that use a sequence of individual, custom-fitted trays that are clear and removable to gradually straighten teeth. They are usually recommended for correcting mild to moderate spacing problems or crowding of the teeth, and for cases in which there are no major issues with your bite (i.e., your back teeth fit together properly and biting forces are distributed evenly on all of your teeth).

To learn more about this method of aligning teeth, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss what treatment options will be best for you. And to read the entire interview with Florence Henderson, please see the Dear Doctor article “Florence Henderson.”


CaughtEarlyCross-BitescanbeCorrectedWithPalatalExpanders

There’s more to orthodontics than simply moving teeth. Especially with children and adolescents, we also want to guide the development of the entire facial structure to solve certain types of malocclusions (poor bites).

One such concern involves the upper jaw and palate (roof of the mouth), known collectively as the maxilla. In some individuals, the maxilla is narrower than normal. This causes the upper teeth to fit abnormally inside the lower teeth when occluding or “biting down” and is known as a cross-bite. A cross-bite may restrict the amount of space for your teeth to erupt (appear in the mouth) in proper alignment. It can be so severe the individual may have to shift the jaw to one side to completely bite down.

If a cross-bite is caught early, there’s a non-surgical treatment to widen the maxilla and help prevent upper teeth misalignment. But there’s a limited time window of opportunity: this is because the maxilla is actually formed by two bones with a seam that runs down the middle of the palate. The two bones will eventually fuse, usually at the beginning of puberty; until then there’s a slight separation.

Before the bones fuse, we can use a palatal expander to widen this seam and encourage permanent bone growth in the resulting gap. The expander is made of two metal halves joined in the middle by a small screw device that fits between the teeth. You or your child turns the screw a very small amount once or twice a day with a special key and the action pushes the maxilla outward on either side: the slight tension created stimulates bone growth. Over time, the new bone will have added width to the maxilla and eliminated the cross-bite.

While it’s possible to correct this after the maxilla fuses, it will require surgery to separate the bones. The palatal expander helps us correct the problem in the most non-invasive way possible, but it must be done before puberty. Discovering this type of malocclusion early is one of many reasons why regular dental visits should be an important part of your child’s healthcare.

If you would like more information on palatal extenders, 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 Kenneth Krause, DMD
December 12, 2013
Category: Oral Health
OliviaNewton-JohnLearnedHealthyOralHabitsFromMom

Olivia Newton-John, now in her early 60's, is still a fresh-faced picture of health — with a radiant smile to match. How does she do it? She does it with healthy habits learned from her German-born mother, Irene.

“I love greens, and as many organic vegetables as possible,” Olivia recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “From spinach to salads to beets — pretty much any and all greens!”

Olivia credits her mom with instilling her lifelong love of healthy foods. Irene used dark bread rather than white bread for sandwiches and even made her own yogurt — which she used as a topping on baked fruit for dessert.

“Growing up, my mum really taught us some great eating habits,” Olivia told the magazine. “When I was a girl in school, all of my friends would have cakes and cookies and fun foods but my mum was all about teaching us to eat healthy foods and to be very aware of what we were putting into our bodies. At the time I was annoyed about it, but looking back now I thank her for teaching me at an early age to eat healthily.”

Irene paid particular attention to her children's oral health. “My mum always made us brush and floss after every meal so, once again, like the foods we ate, she taught us early about the importance of great dental hygiene,” said Olivia, who has an older brother and sister.

As a mom herself, Olivia passed those healthy habits down to her daughter, Chloe.

“I always insisted on regular dental checkups and limited sugar, especially in soft drinks — they were never in our fridge,” she said.

Parents do play an important role in developing healthy oral habits from the very beginning, starting with proper tooth-brushing techniques. By age 2, a brushing routine should be established using a smear of fluoride toothpaste. For older toddlers, parents can use a child's size soft toothbrush with water and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Children need help brushing until at least age 6, when they can generally take over brushing by themselves and also learn to floss.

The point of a good daily oral hygiene routine is to remove the film of bacteria that collects daily along the gum line, and in the nooks and crannies of teeth. Effective daily removal of this biofilm will do more to prevent tooth decay and promote lifelong dental health than anything else.

If you would like to learn more about preventing tooth decay or teaching your child to brush and floss correctly, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Olivia Newton-John, please see “Olivia Newton-John.” Dear Doctor also has more on “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”