You’ve invested a lot of time and money in orthodontic treatment to improve your smile. If you’re not careful, though, your teeth could actually move back to their old positions. The reason why is related to the same natural tooth-moving mechanism we use to straighten teeth in the first place.
Teeth are held in place by an elastic, fibrous tissue called the periodontal ligament lying between the teeth and the jawbone and attaching to both with tiny collagen fibers. The periodontal ligament allows for incremental tooth movement in response to pressure generated around the teeth, as when we chew (or while wearing braces).
Unfortunately, this process can work in reverse. Out of a kind of “muscle memory,” the teeth can revert to the older positions once there’s no more pressure from the removed braces. You could eventually be right back where you started.
To avoid this, we have to employ measures to hold or “retain” the teeth in their new positions for some time after the braces come off. That’s why we have you wear a dental appliance called a retainer, which maintains tooth position to prevent a relapse. Depending on what’s best for your situation, this could be a removable retainer or one that’s fixed to the teeth.
Patients typically wear a retainer around the clock in the immediate period after braces, and then eventually taper off to just nighttime wear. Younger patients must wear one for several months until the new teeth positions become more secure and the chances of a rebound diminish. For older patients who’ve matured past the jaw development stage, though, wearing a retainer may be a permanent necessity to protect their smile.
Retainer wear can be an annoyance, but it’s an absolute necessity. Think of it as insurance on your investment in a new, more attractive smile.
If you would like more information on improving your smile through orthodontics, 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 “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”
A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.
We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?
Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.
When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?
In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.
So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.
If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”
Over the last century and a half millions of people have had a tooth cavity filled with “silver” amalgam. Perhaps you’re one of them. The use of this effective and durable filling has declined in recent years, but only because of the development of more attractive tooth-colored materials.
At the same time there’s another issue that’s been brewing in recent years about this otherwise dependable metal alloy: the inclusion of mercury in amalgam, about half of its starting mixture. Various studies have shown mercury exposure can have a cumulative toxic effect on humans. As a result, you may already be heeding warnings to limit certain seafood in your diet.
So, should you be equally concerned about amalgam fillings — even going so far as to have any existing ones removed?
Before taking such a drastic step, let’s look at the facts. To begin with, not all forms of mercury are equally toxic. The form causing the most concern is called methylmercury, a compound formed when mercury released in the environment combines with organic molecules. This is the form certain large fish like salmon and tuna ingest, which we then ingest when we eat them. Methylmercury can accumulate in the body’s tissues where at high levels it can damage various organ systems.
Dental amalgam, on the other hand, uses elemental mercury. Dentists take it in liquid form and mix it with a powder of other metals like silver, tin and copper to create a pliable paste. After it’s placed in a prepared cavity, the amalgam hardens into a compound in which the mercury interlaces with the other metals and becomes “trapped.”
Although over time the filling may emit trace amounts of mercury vapor, it’s well below harmful levels. You’re more likely to encounter “un-trapped” mercury in your diet than from a dental filling. And scores of studies over amalgam’s 150-year history have produced no demonstrable ill effects due to mercury.
Although it now competes with more attractive materials, amalgam still fills (no pun intended) a necessary role. Dentists frequently use amalgam in less visible back teeth, which encounter higher chewing pressures than front teeth. So, if you already have an amalgam filling or we recommend one to you, relax — you’re really in no danger of mercury poisoning.
Want a better-looking smile? Your dentist can help you love your smile again. Dentists have an array of techniques at their disposal for transforming your smile. Lynch Dental Center, which has offices in Chicago, IL, and River Forest, IL, offers a complete range of dental services. Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Sheila Lynch, and Dr. Frances Lynch are some of the country's finest dentists. Here are five common dental services that you should know about.
Dental veneers are ultra-thin shells that are placed over the front side of teeth. Dental veneers make imperfect smiles look flawless. They are an option for correcting chipped, stained, crooked, or decayed teeth. Dental veneers are made by a dental technologist, in a dental laboratory, working from a model provided by your dentist.
The development and use of dental implants are one of the biggest advances in cosmetic dentistry in the past 30 years. Dental implants are replacement tooth roots made of titanium that is placed into the jawbone to hold fabricated teeth. There are many advantages to dental implants, including improved comfort, improved oral health, improved speech, and easier eating.
Invisalign is designed to reveal the smile you deserve. Millions of people have changed their lives with Invisalign aligners. The aligners are custom-made to move your teeth little by little, each small shift takes you one step closer to a beautiful smile. Invisalign aligners are removable, comfortable, and nearly invisible, and the perfect way to create your dream smile without disrupting your life.
A crown is a type of cap that covers a tooth. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal alloys, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Crowns are used to restore broken, weakened, discolored, and damaged teeth. Dental crowns can improve tooth function. They can be expected to withstand chewing forces well. They can also improve your clarity of speech. Dental crowns are cemented onto teeth, and can only be removed by your dentist.
A dental bridge is used to replace one or more missing teeth. A bridge is a fixed dental prosthesis that is made of two dental crowns and a fabricated tooth/teeth in the middle. A fixed bridge cannot be removed by the patient because it's attached to the mouth. A bridge can restore your smile, prevent your existing teeth from shifting out of place, and restore your ability to properly chew and speak.
Say goodbye to that less-than-perfect smile. Call Lynch Dental Center right now to schedule a dental appointment in Chicago, IL, or in River Forest, IL. Remember, a better life starts with a better-looking smile.
Find out how this clear orthodontic system could potentially help you get a straighter smile.
As an adult, there are many things that you may feel too old to do: riding your local state fair’s kiddy rides or getting a lollipop after a dentist’s visit. Perhaps you think getting braces also belongs on that list. While most people assume that braces are just meant for children, our Chicago and River Forest, IL, dentists Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Frances Lynch and Dr. Sheila Lynch are here to dispel this myth and tell you why you may just want to consider getting Invisalign if you want to fix your crooked smile.
The Clear Alternative
This is the most obvious benefit to getting Invisalign and yet one we shouldn’t forget. While there are certainly tooth-colored brackets and wires that you can get, which are more discreet than their metal counterpart, you can still see these braces.
Instead, why don’t you opt for a system that uses a set of clear plastic removable aligners, which can be just as effective for shifting teeth into the proper place but doesn’t require you to wear braces that the whole world can see?
We know that you lead a busy life and having to visit our Chicago and River Forest, IL, general dentists every few weeks for routine checkups can really make getting braces more of a chore than a positive experience. Of course, when you get the Invisalign treatment you won’t have to come into the office nearly as much as you would with traditional braces, which means a little more time to spend doing what makes you happy.
Wearing metal all over your teeth is certainly no picnic, and it probably goes without saying that it can also be rather uncomfortable. The brackets and wires can rub against your cheeks and gums and cause some serious irritation. With Invisalign, you won’t have to worry about any of this. Each aligner is custom-made just for you from a special, flexible thermoplastic. While the aligners will offer a snug fit, the material is far more comfortable than traditional metal braces.
While your length of treatment will really depend on the severity of your dental issues, we find that by and large most adults who get Invisalign can get the results they want in about one year. Of course, minor misalignments may take far less time to treat. This is a much better option than traditional braces, which can take up to 2 years or more to get a straight smile.
Are you ready to find out if Invisalign is the best option for your smile? If so, the next step is to call Lynch Dental Center in Chicago and River Forest, IL, to schedule your consultation.
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