The 2019 Grammy Awards was a star-studded night packed with memorable performances. One standout came from the young Canadian singer Shawn Mendes, who sang a powerful duet of his hit song "In My Blood" with pop diva Miley Cyrus. But that duo's stellar smiles weren't always quite as camera-ready as they looked that night.
"I had braces for four and a half years," Mendes told an interviewer not long ago. "There's lots and lots and lots of photo evidence, I'm sure you can pull up a few." (In fact, finding one is as easy as searching "Sean Mendes braces.")
Wearing braces puts Mendes in good company: It's estimated that over 4 million people in the U.S. alone wear braces in a typical year—and about a quarter of them are adults! (And by the way: When she was a teenager, Miley Cyrus had braces, too!)
Today, there are a number of alternatives to traditional metal braces, such as tooth-colored braces, clear plastic aligners, and invisible lingual braces (the kind Cyrus wore). However, regular metal braces remain the most common choice for orthodontic treatment. They are often the most economical option, and can be used to treat a wide variety of bite problems (which dentists call malocclusions).
Having straighter teeth can boost your self-confidence—along with helping you bite, breathe, chew, and even speak more effectively. Plus, teeth that are in good alignment and have adequate space in between are easier to clean; this can help you keep your mouth free of gum disease and tooth decay for years to come.
Many people think getting braces is something that happens in adolescence—but as long as your mouth is otherwise healthy, there's no upper age limit for orthodontic treatment. In fact, many celebrities—like Lauren Hutton, Tom Cruise and Faith Hill—got braces as adults. But if traditional braces aren't a good fit with your self-image, it's possible that one of the less noticeable options, such as lingual braces or clear aligners, could work for you.
What's the first step to getting straighter teeth? Come in to the office for an evaluation! We will give you a complete oral examination to find out if there are any problems (like gum disease or tooth decay) that could interfere with orthodontic treatment. Then we will determine exactly how your teeth should be re-positioned to achieve a better smile, and recommend one or more options to get you there.
If you have questions about orthodontic treatment, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Lingual Braces: A Truly Invisible Way to Straighten Teeth.”
Periodontal (gum) disease can do unpleasant things to your mouth, including losing teeth. Its effects, though, may not be isolated to the oral cavity: Gum disease could make other diseases in the body worse.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection most often caused by dental plaque, a thin bacterial film that builds up on teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene. At the outset it may infect your gums causing them to swell, redden or bleed. Eventually, though, the infection can advance deeper toward the tooth roots and bone.
There are various methods to treat gum disease depending on the extensiveness of the infection. But these methods all share the same objective—to remove all uncovered plaque and tartar (hardened plaque). Plaque fuels the infection, so removing it starves out the disease and helps the body to heal.
The damage gum disease can do to the teeth and the surrounding gums is reason enough to seek treatment. But treating it can also benefit your overall health. That's because the weakened gum tissues often serve as an open portal for bacteria and other toxins to enter the bloodstream. From there they can travel to other parts of the body and cause disease.
Gum disease also shares another feature with some systemic conditions: inflammation. This is the body's response to disease or trauma that isolates damaged tissues from healthy ones. But with gum disease, this inflammation can become chronic and ironically do more harm than good.
A gum infection may also increase the body's overall inflammatory response, in turn aggravating other diseases like diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Treating gum disease lowers inflammation, which in turn could ease inflammation in other conditions. Likewise, reducing your body's overall inflammatory response by properly managing these other conditions might make you less susceptible to gum disease.
It's important then to prevent and treat gum disease as if your overall health depended on it—because it does. You can prevent it by brushing and flossing daily and undergoing regular dental cleanings to remove plaque. And see your dentist promptly at the first signs of gum problems. Likewise, follow a physician-supervised program to manage any inflammatory conditions.
If you would like more information on preventing or treating gum disease, 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 “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
While retainers are often viewed as a nuisance, they’re crucial to protect the gains made with bite correction. Without them, all of the progress achieved through braces or clear aligners could be lost.
Here’s why: The same elastic gum tissue called the periodontal ligament that holds teeth in place also allows them to move incrementally in response to changes in the mouth. That’s why we can move teeth with braces or aligners, which put pressure on the teeth toward a desired direction of movement while the periodontal ligament does the rest.
But the mechanics can also work in reverse: With pressure relieved when the braces are removed, the teeth could revert to their original positions through a kind of “muscle memory.” The light pressure provided by a retainer is enough to keep or “retain” teeth in their new positions.
The best known retainer is a removable appliance. Initially, a patient wears it continuously and only takes it out during oral hygiene. Wear duration may later be reduced to night time only and eventually not at all, depending on a patient’s individual needs.
While effective, removable retainers do have some downsides. Like braces, they’re visible to others. And because they’re removable, they’re frequently misplaced or lost, leading to the added expense of a new one.
An alternative is a bonded retainer, a thin piece of wire attached to the back of the newly moved teeth to keep them in place. Because it’s behind the teeth it’s not visible—and there’s no misplacing it because only a dentist can take it out.
A bonded retainer is a good option, especially if a patient is immature and not as diligent about wearing or keeping up with their appliance. But it can make flossing difficult to perform, and if they’re removed or broken prematurely, the teeth could revert to their former positions.
If you decide to go with a bonded retainer, be sure you get some tips from your dental hygienist on how to floss with it. And if you decide later to have it removed early, be sure to replace it with a removable retainer. Either of these two options can help you keep your new and improved smile.
If you would like more information on bonded retainers, 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 “Bonded Retainers.”
Stained teeth aren't exactly the look you want during an interview or in a family portrait. Heck, you don't want a shabby smile in any selfie either. They're not a great look, which is why Dr. Chanda Bennett of Bella Dentistry offers her patients several cosmetic treatments, like porcelain veneers, at her office location: Athens, GA.
More About Veneers
Veneers are wafer-thin porcelain appliances that adhere to the surface of teeth. They're custom-made to perfectly align with the rest of your teeth and conceal issues, like cracks, fractures, minor gaps and discoloration. The procedure is actually quite simple.
- First, your dentist will ask you about your medical history and about any allergies to medication.
- Next, she'll examine your teeth using x-rays to ensure there aren't any issues, like cavities, that need resolving first.
- Then your dentist removes some enamel off the surface of teeth, which prevents veneers from protruding.
- Finally, she adheres the veneers to the surfaces.
Veneers are a simple procedure Dr. Bennett performs in her office, Athens, so schedule an appointment wherever is more suitable for you.
How to Care for Veneers
Veneers are delicate but must be taken care of to prevent cavities ruining veneers and natural teeth. But how do you care for veneers?
- Brush, floss, and use mouthwash everyday, but don't apply too much pressure to veneers.
- Avoid eating hard foods to avoid chipping veneers.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for regular check-ups and professional dental cleanings.
- Opt for healthier dietary choices and avoid sugary foods and beverages.
Do you need a consultation?
If you're interested in veneers and have more questions, then schedule an appointment with Dr. Chanda Bennett of Bella Dentistry in Athens, GA, at (706) 546-7722 or (706) 245-6132 today.
Preventive dental care is one of the most important things you can do for your health. At Bella Dentistry in Athens, GA, your dentist, Dr. Chanda Bennett, works together with patients in achieving their oral health goals. Let's care for your smile and prevent problems before they start.
Strep bacteria and an overly acid oral environment contribute to both gum disease and tooth decay, the leading causes of tooth loss in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Largely, both periodontitis and cavities are preventable through proper diet and consistent oral hygiene.
Oral bacteria thrive in carbohydrate-based plaque and tartar. As the bacteria grow, they secrete damaging acids on gum tissue and tooth enamel. Limit how much starch and sugar you eat, and you begin to limit these destructive biofilms. Dear Doctor calls this balancing your oral environment a dynamic process that you can drive in a healthy direction.
Another way to keep your oral environment disease-free is at-home brushing and flossing. Twice a day gently and thoroughly brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride keeps the minerals in your tooth enamel strong. Also, floss daily to remove plaque and avoid tartar.
How your dentist can help
At Bella Dentistry in Athens, Dr. Bennett sees all her patients for a semi-annual examination and cleaning. She checks for decay, gum disease, oral cancer and more. Your hygienist takes digital X-rays, scales your teeth, and provides a refreshing polishing. She'll show you ways to improve your home hygiene practices, too.
Also, Dr. Bennett provides these preventive services:
- Fluoride treatments (simple varnishes painted on tooth surfaces to harden enamel and reduce dental sensitivity)
- Plastic sealants to coat grooved and pitted chewing surfaces, protecting them from destructive acids
- Scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning of teeth and gums which removes tartar below the gum line
- Periodontal maintenance to measure sulci, or gum pockets, and deep cleans the gum tissue
- Site-specific antimicrobial therapy which tests gum pockets for bacteria and instills medication to quell the infection
At Bella Dentistry in Athens, GA, Dr. Chanda Bennett joins with each patient in preventing oral health problems one smile at a time. Would you like a vibrant smile for life? Then, call for an exam and cleaning appointment with this experienced dentist and her caring team: (706) 546-7722.
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