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Why do orthodontists care about thumbsucking? - Scottsdale Phoenix AZ | Budd Orthodontics

February 11th, 2020

Let’s be honest, seeing a one or two year old sucking their thumb is kind of cute.  It makes you want to pick up the baby and give it a big hug and a kiss.  However, thumbsucking is not limited to infants and toddlers.

 

As an orthodontist, I have had patients as old as 50+ who are thumb suckers.  These patients relate to me that the thumbsucking is soothing and just helps them relax, especially when it is time to fall asleep.  I have no problem with thumbsucking in regard to the social and emotional benefits it provides to some patients.  We all have different ways of relaxing and easing the stresses of daily life.  Who am I to judge?

The problem with thumbsucking from an orthodontic perspective lies in its effect on the movement of the teeth and the growth of the jaws.  Prolonged thumbsucking over months and years will guarantee the need for braces and probably an expander in the future. The suction your mouth creates as you suck your thumb pushes your cheeks against your upper back teeth and splays your upper front teeth forward and your lower front teeth backward.  The classic thumb sucker has a narrow palate with a crossbite on both sides and their front teeth stick out and don’t touch.  The longer the thumbsucking goes on, the more exaggerated are the effects - especially once the permanent teeth start to grow in.

With my own children, I encourage the use of a pacifier to help the babies fall asleep and then when my kids have turned two, the “binky” fairy comes and takes away their binky to give it  to another deserving child and leaves an exciting toy to replace it.  They struggle for a few nights and then usually settle in without missing a beat.  Thumbs are a lot harder to get rid of.

Treatments are available to help with the cessation of thumbsucking.  I will usually recommend a product called Mavala (purchased on Amazon) as a first line of defense and then a habit appliance for patients who continue to struggle.  If you need help easing your child away from their thumbsucking habit, or if you yourself have desires to move on from thumbsucking, please contact our office.  Your orthodontist can definitely be a huge help in avoiding more serious orthodontic problems down the road.

What is the purpose of a space maintainer? - Scottsdale Phoenix AZ | Budd Orthodontics

January 6th, 2020

You may have been told by your orthodontist that your child needs a space maintainer to help make room for adult teeth that are still growing in, but are crowded. You might ask - Why wouldn't there be enough room for the teeth that are growing in? Shouldn't the adult teeth just be replacing the baby teeth that were already there?

Baby teeth are often not the same size as the adult teeth that replace them.  Your front adult teeth are quite a bit wider than the baby teeth that they replace. The opposite is true for your back teeth. The back adult teeth are smaller than the baby molars that they replace. This size difference is what can make a space maintainer very useful. This situation combined with the fact that you may get large teeth from your mom and small jaws from your dad (or vice versa) can cause erupting adult teeth to run out of room.

Orthodontists commonly use an appliance known as a space maintainer while children still have adult teeth that are growing in. There are many uses for a space maintainer, but the most common is insufficient spacing for the adult teeth. There are also many types of space maintainers, but the most common is called a lower lingual holding arch. This appliance takes advantage of the size difference between the adult premolars and the baby molars to save room for crowded front teeth. This appliance can make the time spent in braces shorter or even not necessary.

If your child's front teeth appear to be overlapping or too crowded, check with your orthodontist to see if a space maintainer might be a good option. At Budd Orthodontics, we offer free consultations to discuss concerns you might have with your child's dental development. Give us a call! We would love to meet you.

What is the best way to clean my retainers? - Scottsdale Phoenix AZ | Budd Orthodontics

December 10th, 2019

Retainers are the most important aspect of orthodontic treatment. If retainers are not properly worn, all your hard work to achieve the perfect smile and a healthy bite using braces or Invisalign can simply go to waste.  One important aspect of maintaining your retainers is keeping them clean and free of the harmful buildup of the acid-producing bacteria found in dental plaque (the white fuzzy stuff that collects on your teeth when you don’t brush well). The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to gently brush your retainers with your toothbrush and toothpaste every time you brush your teeth.

In general, if you are brushing your retainers as often as you brush your teeth, your retainers will stay relatively clean and free of bacteria buildup.  If you are “out and about” and don’t have access to your toothbrush, you should gently rinse your retainers with clean water and then brush them when you do have access to a toothbrush and toothpaste.  This will prevent the proteins and minerals in your saliva from drying on the retainer and creating what might be referred to as “hard water” stains on your retainer.

When you are no longer wearing your retainer full-time and only while you sleep, a thorough cleaning in the morning after waking up should be sufficient to keep your retainers looking like new.  Sometimes despite your best efforts, you will start to get some buildup collecting on your retainers.  The best way to get back on track is to soak the retainers in a denture cleaner like  Efferdent or Polydent or a generic equivalent.  These cleaners are specifically designed for the materials that retainers are made of.  Please do not use household cleaners like bleach or other abrasive cleaners on your retainers.  This is dangerous if there is any residual cleaner left on the retainer and will be harmful to the retainer itself over time. 

Follow these simple guidelines, and you should have a happy and healthy mouth for many years to come.

What you need to know about orthodontic expanders - Scottsdale Phoenix AZ | Budd Orthodontics

November 22nd, 2019

So your orthodontist said your child needs a palatal expander?  Here is some helpful information to become familiar with what to expect moving forward.

How does it work?

Palatal expanders are a commonly used appliance in orthodontics to make room for crowded teeth, correct crossbites, increase the size of the airway and/or widen a narrow upper jaw. Many of us have held a newborn baby and felt the “soft spots” on their tender little heads. Those “soft spots” are cartilage sutures that have not yet closed in their developing skulls. In much the same way, each of us has a cartilage suture in our upper jaw that splits the upper jaw into two halves. At the onset of puberty, that suture starts to fuse together into one bone. However, prior to the fusion of the bone the upper jaw can be expanded significantly using a palatal expander. As the palate expands, the cartilage is stretched and stimulates bone to fill into the space created by the expander. If given enough time to stabilize, the jaw will then fill in with bone at the new “corrected” width. Pretty amazing!

Interestingly, the lower jaw does not have a suture to match the upper jaw, which limits the amount of expansion you can achieve on your bottom teeth.

What does it look like?

 

The expander connects to your top molar teeth with little metal rings called “bands”. Wires connected to these bands rest gently on the teeth. There is an activating mechanism in the center of the expander that can easily be turned with a “key” that is given to each patient. Your orthodontist will show you how to use the key – it is really easy! The key will slowly and gently widen the jaw with each activation about 0.25 mm. In our office, one activation is recommended each night before bedtime. Over the course of each 4 day period, the jaw widens just 1 millimeter. While this may not seem like much, within just a few weeks you will have created much more space for the teeth to fit into. You may experience some slight discomfort as the suture starts to open, but this process is relatively pain-free.

As the suture opens, you will often see a space open up between the two front teeth. This is normal and is evidence that the expander is doing its job. After your expansion is complete, the space will naturally start to close as the crowded teeth unravel. Any residual space will be closed with your braces.

How do you maintain the expander?

Keeping your teeth healthy while going through treatment with a palatal expander is pretty easy – it just takes a little extra time and effort when you are brushing and flossing your teeth. Your orthodontist will likely give you some extra little brushes to help you clean well around your expander and show some spots that are commonly missed. A Waterpik or similar device is also a helpful tool to clean around the expander. You should brush your expander the same way you would brush your teeth - until it looks clean and shiny with no white “fuzzies” (plaque) sitting on it.

Before you know it, you will have the stunning smile you have always wanted. Good luck! If you have any questions regarding expanders or orthodontic treatment, give our office a call.

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