Category Archives: orthodontic specialist

Adults Gravitate To ‘Invisible Braces’ For Comfort & Easy Care

Would you be surprised to learn that one-fourth of people who are in treatment to straighten teeth are adults?

Apparently, the benefits of properly aligned teeth have gained due recognition in recent years. While the number of teens in braces has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, the number of adults in orthodontic treatment rose almost 40% between 1996 to 2015. And, there seems to be no slow down in sight.

The power of an appealing smile in the U.S. has taken on its own persona. Other than make-up, cosmetic dentistry represents the largest non-surgical beauty industry. In one study, 38% of Americans stated they would decline a second date with someone with crooked teeth. The study also showed the same percentage perceived that those with straight teeth are more intelligent.

While beautiful smiles have been known to enhance facial appearance while boosting self-esteem and self-confidence, they can come at a steep price. For a smile makeover (porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns  applied to teeth most visible in a smile), costs can easily reach $12,000 and above.

While it is far more economical to move your natural teeth into their proper positions for a more appealing smile, there are health benefits to doing so as well. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean. Crowded, crooked teeth form tight angles that allow debris and food particles to accumulate. These tight nooks make brushing more difficult, providing a breeding ground for oral bacteria.

As oral bacteria multiply, a sticky film known as plaque forms. When not thoroughly removed, it can form cement hard colonies of bacteria known as tartar, or calculus. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away and requires the use of special tools by dental professionals to remove.

These hardened masses may seem dormant but are actually thriving colonies of bacteria that attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. As they continue to thrive and reproduce, the damage can result in cavities and periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease caused by infectious bacteria. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. and affects nearly 47% of the population.

Another bonus of properly-aligned teeth is their role in keeping the TMJ (jaw joints) in healthy position. The jaw joints are located just in front of the ears. Proper bite alignment aids these joints in moving fluidly in their sockets. When misaligned teeth disrupt the ease of jaw joint movement, the result is typically stress and strain on the joints.

When stressed or strained, a domino effect tends to radiate out in a number of ways. TMJ disorder can lead to migraines, frequent headaches, sore jaw joints, difficulty opening the mouth fully, worn or chipped teeth from night-time clenching or grinding, ear ringing, jaw popping and dizziness.

For adolescents in braces, many proudly draw attention to their treatment with colored bands. However, adults often feel awkward when it comes to wearing wires and brackets. This method of realignment also makes eating difficult, creates challenges with oral hygiene and is physically uncomfortable. For adults in social and business settings, traditional braces can also cause discomposure.

Fortunately, today’s dentistry offers an effective, comfortable and affordable alternative to the challenges associated with braces.  Invisalign is an ‘invisable’ tooth realignment system that uses custom-made molds to gently ease teeth into proper positions. There are no brackets or wires, so the gums and lips are not subject to sore spots or tears. The molds are nearly undetectable, so patients avoid uneasiness when speaking or smiling.

As a dentist, I’m especially pleased that Invisalign helps patients be more thorough with their oral hygiene while in treatment. Since the molds are removable for eating and brushing, you can eat the foods you want and properly clean your teeth without the brushing and floss-threading challenges required for traditional braces.

We offer Invisalign for both teens and adults. However, we’ve seen that Invisalign is most appealing for adults, especially those who wore braces in their teen years and have experienced shifting over the years. The Invisalign process eases teeth back to their proper positions simply and comfortably.

Invisalign isn’t appropriate for all situations, however. Some bite realignment requires the more-involved process of traditional orthodontics. For these needs, we have an orthodontic specialist on staff. Dr. Jerry Wesley is an Orthodontist who can provide traditional realignment with braces. He and I are both certified Invisalign providers.

Let’s discuss the option best for you. Begin by calling 586-739-2155 to schedule a no-charge exam and consultation. I will explain the process and determine if Invisalign is appropriate for the degree of realignment you need. During this time, we can also discuss payment plans, many with no down payment required and interest-free.

How To Make Dental Implants Last A Lifetime

Of all implant-in-bone procedures performed today, Dental Implants hold the highest success rate of all – over 94%. That includes hips and knees. However, like any medical procedure, Dental Implants can fail. How can you help to ensure an optimal result and enjoy a confident smile for your lifetime?

One of the keys to the lasting success of implants begins with the Doctor you choose. An experienced and skilled implant Doctor will make a proper diagnosis, selecting the best implant system for your needs. The Doctor will also provide precision placement so the implanted portions are to a proper depth and angle.

The highest risk of implant failure actually occurs after an implant patient leaves the office. The implant recipient has a significant role in the life of their implants.

Fortunately, removing a dental implant is a rare occurrence. Most often, an implant has to be removed because of the onset of an infection that cannot be adequately treated while the implant remains.

Infection typically occurs when oral bacteria amasses and creates an inflammatory state. Once this inflammation penetrates the gum tissues and bone surrounding the implant’s post, it becomes more difficult to treat. With prompt treatment, some infections can be resolved without complications. However, at a certain level the implant must be removed.

What leads to the problems associated with inflammation caused by oral bacteria? After all, we all have bacteria in our mouths, don’t we? Yes, oral bacteria is a normal part of any mouth. The problems begin when too much bacteria develop and are not sufficiently removed on a daily basis. While the most common cause is poor oral hygiene, smoking (which is drying to oral tissues) and diabetes contribute as well.

Another lesser-known but significant reason for failure is teeth grinding. Bruxing (clenching and grinding teeth during sleep) contributes to implant failure in more cases than many realize. One study of dental implant recipients noted that 29% of patients who were teeth grinders had failed implants. Nearly the same number of patients with diabetes experienced implant failure.

Bruxing is as much of a problem for natural teeth as for teeth held by implants. The force of grinding is often so much that it wears the tops of teeth down, referred to as worn teeth. Not to be outdone, the force of clenching can be hard enough to crack a walnut. Grinding and clenching can cause teeth to chip, crack, break and even tilt out of position. These actions can also lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, ear ringing, dizziness, and sore facial and neck muscles.

Obviously, a newly-placed implant is not up for the challenges of bruxing. That’s why it is important to resolve the problem before implants are placed. However, bruxing should be corrected regardless of the situation.

Bruxing and clenching are the result of a misaligned bite in most cases. Once the misalignment has been pinpointed, mild cases may be corrected with simple reshaping of selected teeth. More severe misalignment may require the placement of crowns to adjust tooth height or even orthodontics.

Keeping a clean, healthy mouth and ensuring your teeth are in proper position will help in protecting the life of your implant, After placement, we will advise you on ways to avoid risks and potential failure. It is our goal for every patient to have a positive experience and successful outcome.

While not all aspects of after-treatment are within our control, I believe that thorough communication with patients is important. It is our belief that patients are able to increase their success potential when they understand the importance of their role.

To learn more about Dental Implants, call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a free consultation. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and make recommendations. If desired, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment options, most interest-free with no down payment required.

Position Of Each Tooth Can Effect More Than You May Realize

In dentistry, precision is everything. As a neuro-muscular dentist, I know just how true that is.

Good oral health relies upon a delicate balance of upper teeth to lower teeth as well as the unity of teeth on both sides. What occurs when a tooth is lost and not replaced is a perfect example of the the problems that can occur without each tooth in its proper position.

When a tooth is lost, the tooth above or below the open space is left without an opposing tooth. The opposing tooth helps to keep its upper or lower ‘neighbor’ at a proper length. Without it, the tooth grows longer. Additionally, the teeth adjacent to the open space are no longer held in their proper positions. These teeth can soon tilt into the open space and lean into range of the elongated tooth.

The longer tooth can now ‘hit’ the leaning teeth in chewing or speaking. Initially, this may cause a dull tooth ache. As the tooth grows longer and the others tilt further, chips, fractures or breaks can occur. The effects of bite misalignment don’t stop there, however.

Bite misalignment tends to put stress and strain on the jaw joints. These are the joints just in front of your ears that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Stress on these joints is referred to as TMJ disorder.

When the bite is misaligned, the jaw joints become so as well. During sleep, there becomes a subconscious struggle as the jaw joints search for a proper relaxation point during sleep. As the jaws seek this out, clenching and grinding can occur. This can result in worn teeth, frequent headaches, migraines, soreness when opening the mouth, ear ringing, facial muscle pain and dizziness. Jaw Joint

Yet, you don’t have to be missing a tooth for these problems to occur. A crown that is placed at an improper height can just as easily disrupt the balance required for teeth and jaw joints to work together harmoniously.

My advanced training in neuromuscular dentistry and modern technology are ways I help our patients avoid the long list of problems that can easily occur when the delicate balance of occlusion is disrupted. Proper bite alignment is an important element in the overall skeletal alignment. Without it, a domino effect is set into motion.

If you are experiencing any of the problems related to bite misalignment or TMJ disorder (as mentioned above), call to arrange a no-cost consultation. During this time, I’ll discuss ways that we can determine if your bite is truly the source of your problems. If so, there are several options available to help restore the balance of a healthy bite.

If you are not experiencing these problems, you can rest assured that the work you have performed in our office will be done in a way to help you avoid them. It’s simply a perk of our commitment to exceptional care for each patient!

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a consultation time that works for you.

Vertigo (Dizziness) Can Be Caused By Jaw Joint Disorder

If you experience dizziness (also referred to as vertigo), this off-balance sensation can place you in an unsure frame of mind, not to mention put your safety at risk.

The latin origin of the word ‘vertigo is “a whirling round.” Vertigo is observed in a number of diseases and causes dizziness and a loss of balance. It can also cause confusion, nausea, lightheadedness, and the feeling of being pulled downward.

Although the cause is often unknown in many cases, problems involving the inner ear are a common cause of vertigo. In addition to a head injury, migraines and lengthy period of bedrest, other contributing factors include:
    •    Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV; a mechanical inner-ear disorder)
    •    Meniere’s disease (a progressive ear disease)
    •    Vestibular neuritis (inflammation of the vestibulocochlear nerve)
    •    Labyrinthitis (a condition caused by inner ear infection)
    •    TMJ (jaw joint) disorder

The inner ear is the common culprit in the majority of vertigo cases. However, the position and fluid motion of your jaw joints (TMJ) and bite alignment are often-overlooked as contributing factors.  Research has found that disorders of the temporo-mandibular joint can lead to balance disparities as well as cause nausea and vision problems.

Recent research has found that vertigo and TMJ Disorder have a deeper correlation than once thought. In these cases, bite misalignment is resolved to reduce tension in connected jaw muscles. This can often eliminate the symptom of dizziness.

But, where is the connection? One suspected pathway is in how the jaws and inner ear share a common ligament. Hence, the bones that are intricately responsible in hearing are also closely connected with the anatomy of the temporo-mandibular joint.

Because a TMJ disorder triggers stress and strain on structures associated with the jaw joints, this jointly-shared ligament can be pulled from its natural position.  The trickle-down effect means the middle ear structure, which is responsible for maintaining equilibrium, becomes off-kilter. However, this is but one scenario. A TMJ disorder can affect the inner ear in other ways as well.

The TMJ is actually a rotating hinge that joins the lower jaw to the head.  It houses a “socket” that is also part of the temporal bone.  TMJ Disorder (or ’TMD’) may move this temporal bone just enough to shift the connected components out of position as well.

Although the relationship to the TMJ and inner ear are gaining more attention for those who suffer with vertigo, many medical practitioners are not fully aware of the connection.  This is why the most effective route to treatment may be seeing a Neuro-muscular Dentist. This is a dentist who is a trained TMJ specialist and is structured to help establish a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

The symptoms of TMD include clicking or popping jaw joints, depression, facial pain, frequent headaches or migraines, jaw pain, limited jaw movement, neck and shoulder pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers, tinnitus (ear ringing) and sleep apnea.

In addition to bite realignment, prevention or reduction of factors such as bruxism, jaw clenching and other things that may cause muscle inflammation give the body the opportunity to repair itself. However, the most effective diagnosis – that is the origin of an effective treatment plan – may include:
    •    TENS Therapy ( transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation): This is an electrical impulse unit that is used to relax the jaw muscles and to allow it to settle into its natural position. Once the natural resting position is established, a properly fitted mouth piece can retrain the jaw muscles to rest in the correct position.
    •    TMJ Orthotics: Customized orthotic (a device resembling an athlete’s mouth guard.) is particularly effective for realigning the jaw.  Many patients report near-immediate relief of vertigo symptoms they have had for years once an orthotic is used.
    •    Restorative Dentistry: In some cases, a ‘bad bite’ is caused by the way that the teeth come together in biting, chewing and at rest.  While mouth pieces may temporarily resolve the problem, the position of the teeth may cause a bad bite to reoccur.  In these cases restorative dentistry may be required to ensure a proper bite and avoid re-emergence of TMD symptoms.

The relationship between TMJ and vertigo symptoms are still being studied.  To fully establish the culprit of vertigo as TMJ disorders, proper testing by a trained, experienced Neuro-Muscular dentist is the most efficient way to resolve the many symptoms that can result.

If dizziness, a sense of being off-balance, or other symptoms are causing you concern, consider that your jaw joints may play a bigger role than is often obvious. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a private, no-cost consultation appointment. We’ll discuss your symptoms, medical and dental history, and methods for diagnosis and treatment that may be right for you.

Beautiful Smiles Have Advantages That Go Beyond Appearance

While definitions of beauty vary, symmetry is a common component of how most assess a face as beautiful. A common standard used is a balanced eye alignment with both sides of the mouth, nose and cheeks mirroring one another. However, many beauty ‘experts’ agree that, regardless of meeting these standards, beauty exudes from those who possess an aura of confidence.

Being confident, however, requires one to feel confident. That sounds so simple, yet it’s not. When we stop and examine what creates confidence in a person, many say it’s feeling self-assured about the impression one makes. And, right or wrong, we know that a large part of this impression is created by what others see on the outside.

In my twenty years in dental practice, I’ve seen hundreds of patients who decided, after much contemplation, to have a smile makeover. And rightly so, since many surveys have shown that the first thing people often notice when meeting someone is their smile.DrB Pt Mirror copy

Modern cosmetic dentistry offers a number of durable, natural looking and long-lasting methods to create a smile that enhances one’s appearance and self-confidence. In some instances, for example, placing porcelain veneers on just the front six upper teeth can dramatically improve a smile’s appearance with a look and feel that is as natural as real teeth.

You may remember “Extreme Makeover,” a series on television that aired from 2002 to 2007. Each episode followed an individual who had been chosen for a total makeover. Typically, the individual was taken through weight loss and toning, plastic surgery, hair and makeup, and smile enhancement. What quickly became key criteria for the candidates selected was their need for cosmetic dentistry.  Why?

After the show began, it became very apparent to the producers that the most significant changes in appearance emerged from the smile enhancements. While losing weight, a nose job or breast lift were all beneficial, it was the smile that often had the most dramatic effect when it came to improving appearance.

When smile makeovers are completed in our office, I’ve had many patients break out in tears at the new smile they see in the mirror. And, even though the expenses associated with some smile enhancements can be a financial stretch, I’ve never had a patient who didn’t say their new smile was “worth every cent” with most adding, “I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to do this.”

Yet, it’s not what occurs in the moments after their new smile is completed as what emerges over time. I’ve seen a number of my smile makeover patients lose weight, pursue work promotions, get a new hairstyle, become more social, smile more often and seem more positive about life in general. It’s as if the new smiles released self-esteem that had been hiding behind smiles that kept their true self-confidence tucked beneath the surface.

Time and again, research has shown the dramatic effect a smile has on one’s overall demeanor. Apparently, the act of smiling causes the brain to release endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Findings also show that even faking a smile causes the brain to react as a mood booster.

The simple act of smiling is good for you, inside and out! A smile that enhances our appearance tends to be shared more often. This sets off a domino effect. Since our mood is boosted from our brain’s chemical reactions, it makes us feel more positive. Feeling more positive makes us feel more confident. And so on.

Whether you need to replace missing teeth, old crowns or bridgework, need to realign crooked or crowded teeth or repair broken, chipped or worn teeth, today’s cosmetic dentistry offers excellent options. And, many are surprised at the affordability of achieving the smile they desire.

Begin with a no cost, no obligation consultation. We’ll talk about what may work best for your goals, comfort options, payment plans and anticipated treatment time.

When you consider the small amount of space that a smile has on our bodies, it amazing at how significantly it can transform our appearance and mindset one way or another. Yet, what nature may have denied, modern dentistry can give back!

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to arrange a time convenient for you.

Straight Teeth Help To Prevent Long List Of Problems

At one time or another, we’ve all grabbed a grocery cart that had one wheel that dragged or wobbled. Pushing it can be so difficult that we often cede and find another cart that moves smoothly.

When your teeth are out of alignment, you may not notice anything at first. Yet, misaligned teeth don’t correct themselves. As the alignment worsens, a number of issues can result. 

Bite misalignment is when the upper teeth and lower teeth don’t fit together harmoniously. Although genetics can be to blame for bite problems, other reasons can lead to development of an overbite or open bite, crooked teeth and crowding.

As a Neuro-Muscular Dentist, I’ve seen how minor alignment problems can become severe since the underlying cause isn’t always initially obvious. Research has shown that an improper bite can lead to a long list of problems, including:

  • Worn, cracked or chipped teeth
  • Frequent headaches, migraines and sore jaw joints
  • Ear ringing
  • Feeling off-balance and dizzy at times
  • Clenching and/or grinding teeth during sleep
  • Pain in facial, neck and shoulder muscles

Minor bite misalignment may be resolved in several ways. For example, gentle reshaping of some tooth ‘points’ may re-balance the bite. Or, crowns may be recommended in order to better adjust the height of certain teeth. More severe bite problems may require orthodontics to straighten teeth, of which brings a number of advantages.

Straight teeth create a more flattering smile. And, a beautiful smile tends to enhance one’s overall facial appearance. Having an attractive smile typically causes people to smile more while creating a look and feel of self-confidence.

Straight teeth are also easier to keep clean. Crooked or crowded teeth tend to create angles that are difficult for a tooth brush to reach. When oral bacteria accumulates, the result can be cavities or gum disease.

For teeth that are crowded or crooked, the most natural way to a beautiful smile is by straightening teeth. In our office, Dr. Jerry Wesley, an Orthodontic specialist, can make recommendations to restore proper bite alignment while enhancing your smile’s appearance.

In addition to traditional braces, Invisalign (for teens & adults) offers an alternative to braces that uses clear molds to move teeth. These are removable for eating and brushing and, in some cases, move teeth at a pace faster than traditional braces.

Ignoring the symptoms of bite misalignment allows a bad problem to become worse. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a free consultation. During this time, we will explain methods to properly diagnose bite misalignment and, if it does exist, correct bite problems in an appropriate way.

Straight Teeth Offer More Benefits Than Smile Enhancement

“Sit up straight!” You may have had a parent or grandparent who reminded you, as a youth, to sit up straight. I did! As an adult, I realize this was their way of saying that slumping looks bad AND is bad for our health.

When a person walks ’round shouldered’ or slumps when sitting, the spine gets used to the curved posture. Over time, it becomes the natural position of that individual and standing erectly, shoulders back in proper position, is a strain. Since the neck is aligned to the spine, it too endures strain.

This has more to do with your smile than you realize. Proper alignment, throughout the body, enables the body to move harmoniously as each part supports the other parts. Just as the skeletal system relies on correct alignment for efficient function, so do teeth.

Your teeth were designed to function as a group. Each tooth not only aids in biting, chewing and proper speech, it bolsters teeth on each side and the one above or below it. A tooth in proper position helps keep neighboring teeth in proper position.

Imagine a tooth tilting out of this position, however. As it moves, the teeth on either side are able to move. This creates a domino effect that can lead to problems that extend far beyond a smile’s appearance.

Misaligned teeth can strain jaw joints, creating headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints and night-time clenching and grinding. Grinding is a common cause of worn teeth and teeth that chip, crack or break.

Many people do not realize that bite misalignment can also lead to pain in facial, head and neck muscles. Nor do they associate ear ringing, dizziness or tingling fingers with bite problems.

An added bonus of straight teeth is the ability to keep them cleaner. When teeth are crowded and crooked, oral bacteria can be more difficult to brush or floss away, becoming embedded in tight angles. Straight teeth support your ability to keep them healthy while lowering your risk for cavities and gum disease.

One of the reasons I completed advanced training in neuro-muscular dentistry was to help our patients avoid the problems associated with bite misalignment. I’ve even seen patients who’ve suffered with years of migraines as a result of having crowns placed that were too short. This is just one example of how a small measure of misalignment can lead to a long list of problems.

While I’m all in favor of helping my patients achieve an appealing smile by straightening teeth, I know it is even more important to create proper bite alignment in the process. This is why I became Invisalign Certified and also provide the services of an Orthodontic specialist, Dr. Jerry Wesley.

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For those who are deterred from teeth straightening with traditional braces, Invisalign uses a clear mold to move teeth at a similar pace (or, in some cases, faster) than traditional braces. Invisalign is removable for eating and brushing, which makes them even more appealing for many. And, because they are nearly invisible when worn, many adults and teens avoid feeling self-conscious during treatment.

What the patient sees in the mirror after treatment is a naturally-beautiful smile of straight, healthy teeth. What I see is the terrific smile PLUS a bite alignment that supports harmonious function of teeth, jaw joints, facial muscles and head-&-neck structure that will serve them well. As a dentist, I see the problems a patient will avoid in the future as a result of a proper bite.

Crowded, crooked teeth will only continue to move. Responding to the problem now may help to shorten treatment time and provide you with more options. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles and we’ll discuss how you can enjoy a smile that looks great and functions wonderfully!