Posts for: September, 2012
Nolan Gould, who plays Luke on the popular TV comedy Modern Family, has beautiful, straight teeth. But in an exclusive interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the young actor said it wasn't always that way.
“My teeth used to be pretty messed up,” Nolan said. “I had two extra teeth when I was born. They hadn't come out (erupted) yet. And all the other teeth that were already there were starting to point backwards because it was getting so crowded in my mouth. At about the age of 7, I started going to the orthodontist to get my teeth checked.”
Age 7 may sound early for a visit to the orthodontist, but in fact that's exactly the age we recommend for a first orthodontic evaluation. Malocclusions (bad bites) often become noticeable around this time, as the child's permanent (adult) teeth erupt. We might already be able to see evidence of the following problems: crowding, too much space between teeth, protruding teeth, extra or missing teeth, and sometimes problems with jaw growth. So even if your child is too young for braces, it is not necessarily too early for an orthodontic evaluation.
This type of exam can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. Early detection of orthodontic problems makes it easier to correct those problems in the long run. Waiting until all of the permanent teeth are in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction more difficult or even impossible. That's why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7.
Orthodontic treatment itself usually begins between ages 7 and 14. Therapy that begins while a child is still growing, often referred to as “interceptive orthodontics,” helps produce optimal results. In Nolan's case, an early orthodontic evaluation allowed his orthodontist enough time to plan the most effective treatment. Nolan's two extra teeth were removed before they had a chance to push his other teeth even further out of alignment, and he was given orthodontic appliances which fit behind the teeth.
“You can remove them, which is really good for acting, especially because you can't see them. I can wear them 24/7 and nobody will ever notice.”
One thing that is noticeable, however, is Nolan's perfectly aligned smile!
If you would like to learn more about improving tooth alignment with orthodontics, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. To read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Nolan Gould, please see “Nolan Gould.” Dear Doctor also has more on an “Early Orthodontic Evaluation.”
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which was formerly known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), is an interesting condition because it can be hard to diagnose and often mimics many other conditions. It arises when there are problems inside the temporomandibular joint, and the muscles attached to it, causing pain. When treating TMD, we typically start by relieving the symptoms of pain and discomfort with heat, mild pain medications, a diet of soft foods, and some simple jaw exercises. We feel that it is critical to address your pain issues as soon as possible before preceding any further with treatment.
Once we have provided some pain relief and after having completed a thorough history and examination, we can move to the next phase of treatment. This may include the introduction of a bite guard or some form of oral appliance therapy. A bite guard is an unobtrusive yet rigid plastic horseshoe-shaped appliance that fits snuggly over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth. When in place and properly adjusted, this custom-made appliance allows your muscles and therefore jaw joints to relax. And it will prevent you from grinding your teeth, another contributing factor to TMD. We will probably ask you to wear it when sleeping or in times when you are feeling stressed when clenching or grinding habits may be active. We may also suggest that you obtain some relaxation therapy and/or biofeedback from a licensed therapist, as this can prove helpful in treating TMD.
If you have suffered from frequent jaw pain in the past and suspect that you may have TMD, please let us know so that we can address it at your next appointment. Or if you are currently in constant or severe pain, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for TMD by reading “TMD — Understanding The Great Imposter.”
When it comes to patient comfort, one of the most important developments of the 21st century has been sedation dentistry, which enables you to relax in both mind and body allowing you to focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. And the prescription medications we use are some of the safest on the “therapeutic index” (the scale pharmacists and health professionals use to measure the safety of medications.) However, it is critical that we are aware of any medications you are already taking and your medical health and history, so let us know all about you so that we can avoid adverse (negative) reactions. Please note that we will take a full history to gain this information prior to any treatment or sedation — our utmost concern is your safety. During this time, it is vital that you are honest and feel comfortable sharing your responses to our questions. It's also our way of getting to know you and the first stage in relieving your anxiety. We will need to know all about:
- All medical conditions for which you are currently being treated.
- All prescription medications you are taking.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. This even includes aspirin, St. John's Wort, and Kava Kava. (Why? If taken daily for good heart health, aspirin thins your blood and thus may interfere with blood coagulation. And St. John's Wort and Kava Kava may be beneficial in helping relieve depression, but they can negatively impact how oral sedation medications work.)
- Foods and drinks you consume, such as alcohol and even grapefruit (juice or the fruit), can negatively impact how your body responds to both your treatment and sedation medications.
- And lastly, we need to know if you are a tobacco user — especially if you are a smoker. In addition to increasing your risks for oral and other cancers, tobacco can negatively influence the effectiveness of sedation medications.