My Blog

Posts for: March, 2018

By David G. Feeney, DDS
March 30, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

If you press your tongue against your teeth, unless something is badly wrong they won't budge. In fact, your teeth are subjected to a fair amount of pressure each day as you chew and eat, and yet they remain firmly in place.

But there's a deeper reality—your teeth do move! No, it's not a paradox—the gum and bone tissues that hold your teeth in place allow for slight, imperceptible changes in the teeth's position. Their natural ability to move is also the basis for orthodontics. Here are 3 more facts you may not know about your teeth's natural ability to move.

Teeth are always on the move. Teeth are held firmly within the jawbone by an elastic gum tissue called the periodontal ligament and a thin layer of bony-like material called cementum. In response to pressure changes, though, the bone dissolves on the side of the teeth in the direction of pressure and then rebuilds behind it, solidifying the teeth's new position, a process that happens quite slowly and incrementally. And it will happen for most of us—some studies indicate more than 70% of people will see significant changes in their bite as they age.

Orthodontics works with the process. Orthodontic appliances like braces or clear aligners apply targeted pressure in the direction the orthodontist intends the teeth to move—the natural movement process does the rest. In the case of braces, a thin metal wire is laced through brackets bonded to the front of the teeth and then anchored, typically to the back teeth. The orthodontist incrementally tightens the wire against its anchors over time, encouraging tooth movement in response to the pressure. Clear aligners are a series of removable trays worn in succession that gradually accomplish the same outcome.

Watch out for the rebound. That nice, straight smile you've gained through orthodontics might not stay that way. That's because the same mechanism for tooth movement could cause the teeth to move back to their former positions, especially right after treatment. To avoid this outcome, patients need to wear a retainer, an appliance that holds or "retains" the teeth in their new positions. Depending on their individual situations and age, patients may have to wear a retainer for a few months, years or from then on.

If you would like more information on orthodontic treatment, 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.”

By David G. Feeney, DDS
March 15, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

It’s a common sight to see someone wearing braces—and not just teens or pre-teens. In the last few decades, people in their adult years (even late in life) are transforming their smiles through orthodontics.

If you’re an adult considering treatment to straighten your teeth, this particular dental specialty might be an unfamiliar world to you. Here are 3 things you may not know about orthodontics.

Orthodontic treatment cooperates with nature. There would be no orthodontics if teeth couldn’t move naturally. Teeth are actually held in place by an elastic tissue called the periodontal ligament that lies between the teeth and bone. Small fibers from the ligament tightly attach to the teeth on one side and to the bone on the other. Although it feels like the teeth are rigidly in place, the ligament allows for micro-movements in response to changes in the mouth. One such change is the force applied by orthodontic appliances like braces, which causes the bone to remodel in the direction of the desired position.

Treatment achieves more than an attractive smile. While turning your misaligned teeth into a beautiful, confident smile is an obvious benefit, it isn’t the only one. Teeth in proper positions function better during chewing and eating, which can impact digestion and other aspects of health. Misaligned teeth are also more difficult to keep clean of bacterial plaque, so straightening them could help reduce your risk of tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease.

Possible complications can be overcome. Some problems can develop while wearing braces. Too much applied force could lead to the roots dissolving (root resorption), which could make a tooth shorter and endanger its viability. Braces can also contribute to a loss of calcium in small areas of tooth enamel, which can make the teeth more vulnerable to oral acid attack. However, both these scenarios can be anticipated: the orthodontist will watch for and monitor signs of root resorption and adjust the tension on the braces accordingly; and diligent oral hygiene plus regular dental cleanings will help prevent damage to the tooth enamel.

If you’re dreaming of a straighter and healthier smile, see us for a full examination. We’ll then be able to discuss with you your options for transforming your smile and your life.

If you would like more information on orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor article “Moving Teeth with Orthodontics.”

March 06, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Whether you've just lost a tooth or experienced tooth loss in the past, dental implants can restore your smile. Matthews, NC, dentist Dr. dental implantsDavid Feeney shares a few benefits of dental implants and explains how the implant process works.

Why should I choose dental implants?

Dental implants offer several important benefits, including:

  • A Complete Replacement Tooth: Dental implants completely restore missing teeth. The implant, which serves as a synthetic root replacement, bonds to your jawbone and is topped with a dental crown. Implants are a good choice if you've lost one or two teeth, but you can even replace all of your teeth with the restorations. Many people who've worn removable dentures in the past find that implant-supported dentures are a more comfortable option.
  • Natural Feel: Dental implants feel comfortable because they're firmly attached to your jaw just like natural teeth. You can easily chew all of your favorite foods without worrying that your restoration will slip or rub against your gum.
  • Improved Appearance: The crown attached to the top of your dental implant looks just like your missing tooth. Crowns are created from impressions of your mouth taken in our Matthews office to ensure that the restorations look and feel natural. Shifting teeth, a problem that can occur after you lose a tooth, can be avoided by adding a dental implant and crown to your mouth. Once your new tooth is in place, you won't have to worry that your teeth will drift and overlap.
  • No Change to Your Bite: A missing tooth or teeth can change your bite and may even eventually lead to other problems, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) or difficulty chewing. Dental implants help you avoid these issues.
  • A Stronger Jawbone: Your jawbone starts to resorb, or shrink after you lose a tooth. Resorption occurs when your tooth roots no longer stimulate the bone and can several unpleasant consequences. Further tooth loss is a possibility, plus a shrinking jawbone can lead to facial sagging. Your new dental implant presses on your jawbone the same way your roots do, which strengthens your jaw and prevents shrinking.

Restore your smile with dental implants! Call Matthews, NC, dentist Dr. David Feeney at (704) 847-1000 to schedule an appointment.