KNOWLEGE IS POWER

orthodontist dr levin north phoenix north scottsdaleWelcome to my blog!  Part of my mission is to help you make informed decisions regarding orthodontics and your/your child’s oral health.  If you live in the Aviano or Fireside Desert Ridge communities, then you might have already seen what follows in your new, monthly, community-based publication, Inside Avi + Fi, launched January 2014.

 

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
July 2014

I feel so lucky; my job is to create smiles.  The remarkable pattern I have discovered, after years of experience, is that smiles on the outside often become smiles on the inside.

My observations were recently confirmed by a survey of adults (ages 18-54) who sought treatment from orthodontic specialists.1  I thought I would share some highlights with you in this months’ column:

58% reported improved career success (75% among adults 18-34)
83% reported improved personal relationships
One respondent said, “With an attractive smile you can face your career and personal relationships with confidence.”
92% said they would recommend orthodontic treatment to other adults

Adults are seeking orthodontic treatment in numbers higher than ever before, I believe in part due to advances in the treatment options available.  We are also living longer, understand the importance of dental health, and we are not in dentures by age 50!

In that same survey, of the 71% who had concerns prior to treatment (“What will others think?”, “How will I look?”), an overwhelming majority said their concerns went away once treatment began.

So, as an adult you are never too old to reap the benefits of a radiant smile.  As a parent, why wouldn’t you try to give your children a head start with the gift of a smile?

The results are in:  Smiles truly do change lives.

1The Bulletin (a bimonthly publication of the American Association of Orthodontists), Vol 31, No 6, p. 13

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
June 2014

Summer is here!  Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go.  You already travel with a basic first aid kit, but if you or your child has braces, there are a few more tips and supplies that will help you to stay prepared.

1. Prevention is key.  Avoiding those hard, crunchy and chewy, sticky foods, no matter how tempting, will foil the majority of incidents.

2. A ligature tie comes off.  A loose rubber tie may be replaced using sterile tweezers; remove any loose, small wire tie.  If a wire tie sticks out, but is not loose, push it down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser.

3. Irritation of the lips and cheeks.  Keep any sore cushioned with orthodontic wax or sugarless chewing gum for expeditious healing.  Rinse with salt water or use a topical anesthetic (Orabase or Orajel) to soothe.

4. Poking wire.  Occasionally the end of a wire works its way out of place.  Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire flat against the tooth, or if the wire cannot be moved, cover it with orthodontic wax.  If extremely bothersome, use small nail clippers to clip the wire.

5. Loose brackets or bands.  Braces that look off-center, or flipped upside-down, are no longer glued to the teeth.  Use sterile tweezers to move the loose brace for comfort.  Orthodontic wax can help stabilize temporarily.

6. Bon voyage!  Always call your orthodontist for further guidance, but rest assured knowing you have the basics covered.

Download Orthodontic Comfort 101 here.  Published by the American Association of Orthodontists.

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
May 2014

Most people think of pre-teens and teens when they think of orthodontics, but there are good reasons your child should have an orthodontic evaluation much sooner.  The timing of orthodontic treatment is critical to ideal outcomes.  So important that The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. 

While your child’s teeth may appear straight, there could be problems with the bite or with the adult teeth developing in the jaws.  While it rarely eliminates future need (big myth!), early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems, and may make treatment at a later age less complicated.  Early treatment is used to:  guide jaw growth, guide adult teeth into a more favorable position, lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth, help correct harmful oral habits, and improve appearance.

However, just because a problem is identified, does not mean that early treatment is always appropriate or beneficial.  Regular assessments of your child’s facial growth and development will help your orthodontist to determine the best time to initiate active treatment, and to achieve results that may be completely unrealistic if treatment were initiated too late.

Children are unique in both physiological development and treatment needs.  Given the opportunity, it is always my goal to provide each child with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
April 2014

We are in the midst of March Madness and the start to a new MLB season; Stanley Cup playoffs are around the corner.  Piggybacking off last months’ mouth guards and sports safety column, I ask:  what if your child experiences dental trauma?

Baby teeth relate closely to adult teeth developing inside the jaw.  An injury to baby teeth can affect the future esthetics of adult teeth (whitish marks, deformations), depending on the extent of injury.  Baby teeth knocked out should not be replaced.

Contrast to adult teeth.  If a piece of an adult tooth is broken off, find that piece and call your dentist.  Sometimes your dentist can “glue” it back into place.

If an adult tooth is knocked out:

1. Find the tooth and hold it by the crown (white part), not by the root (yellow part).

2. If dirty, quickly rinse under cold water.

3. Put the tooth back in place, if possible.  Bite into gauze or a washcloth to hold it in position.

4. If you can’t put the tooth back in, put it in a cup of milk or saline.1  If these aren’t available, put the tooth in your child’s mouth, between the cheeks and gums.
5. Seek care from your dentist immediately.

Benjamin Franklin said it best:  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  April is National Facial Protection Month; mouth guards really do save smiles!

1Save-A-Tooth is available online, and bears the ADA seal of approval.  Dr. Levin has no financial interest in this product.

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
March 2014

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth.  Smiling, talking, eating—suddenly everything would change.  Not to mention, repairing broken teeth and jaws is uncomfortable and can cost thousands of dollars.

Children and teens will sustain more than 3 million sports and recreation-related injuries this year, and yet 67% of parents admit that their child does not wear a mouth guard during organized sports.1

Mouth guards help cushion a blow to the face and minimize injury.  Mouth guards are also one of the least expensive pieces of protective gear available.

While contact sports like boxing and football are high risk for the mouth, you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, like bicycling or basketball.   Any activity where your face has the potential to collide with something hard—say another player, a ball, or the pavement—calls for a mouth guard.

A properly fitted mouth guard may be especially important for those in braces.  It protects “fixed” appliances, and provides a barrier between the braces and your cheeks or lips.  If you have a removable retainer, take it out during any contact sports.

There are several types of mouth guards available.  Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouth guard that will provide you with the best protection.

Save your smile!  Wear a mouth guard.

1Data from the American Association of Orthodontists

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
February 2014

My inspiration for this month’s column comes from a study published in the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics that evaluated bullying in 920 Jordanian school children.1

The results of the study are powerful.  47% of these sixth graders reported being bullied, significantly more were males (surprised?), and a much higher percentage of bully victims reported staying home from school or disliking school than those who were not bullied.  41% reported name-calling.  35% reported being bullied for good grades.

Teeth were THE number one physical target associated with bullying (50%), ahead of strength (34%) and weight  (31%).  The 3 most common dental features identified by bullies were space between the teeth or missing teeth, shape or color of the teeth, and prominent upper front teeth.

How applicable are these statistics in our own backyards?  Dental esthetics is a key factor in social attractiveness today.  I can tell you that every month I see at least one or two children who are teased to tears over something to do with their teeth.

The best news is that an Orthodontic specialist can do something to help!  I usually propose conservative treatment for these children.  There may not be an immediate orthodontic need, but there is an immediate need to improve a child’s quality of life!

Smiles truly do change lives.

1Al-Bitar ZB, et al.  Bullying among Jordanian schoolchildren, its effects on school performance, and the contribution of general physical and dentofacial features.  Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2013;144:872-8.

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Your Life, Your Smile, and YOU
January 2014

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight” said the late, stand-up comedian Phyllis Diller.  Whatever your motivation in seeking the care of an Orthodontic specialist, there is often more than one way to get you to smile!

Thanks in large part to the research and development team at Align Technology, the Invisalign® product (a series of clear, removable, custom trays) is now a very viable alternative to traditional braces in many cases, even for teens.

Choosing to straighten your teeth with Invisalign® is smart and easy.  The biggest advantage for most people is that others barely notice the trays in your mouth.  You can also continue to brush and floss normally, and eat all the hard, crunchy and chewy, sticky foods you want (with your trays out, of course!).

There are a few required lifestyle modifications.  First, you have to know yourself, and be able to commit to wearing your trays for a minimum of 22 hours each day.  Second, those who eat multiple smaller meals or snacks throughout the day will need to adjust to taking their trays out, and remembering to put them back in more frequently.

Ultimately, whether or not Invisalign® can get you to smile will depend on the expertise and experience of your Orthodontist in the aligner arena.

Start the New Year by giving yourself or a loved one the gift of a smile…. and watch it last a lifetime!

Dr. Levin is a Preferred Invisalign® provider, and has no financial interest in Align Technology, Inc.