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Varghese Orthodontics

At what age should children see the orthodontist?

November 7th, 2018

This is one of the most common questions we’re asked from parents and dentists. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic consultation around age 7. Many of the permanent teeth haven’t erupted at that age, but there may be an underlying issue that isn’t obviously apparent. The goal of these early visits is to identify problems before they develop into something more serious.
Orthodontists will evaluate how your child is growing and check for any potential risks to the bone, gums, teeth, or jaws. Some of the things we need to evaluate are crowding, tooth loss, spacing, and the type of bite your child has.

Crowding is a common dental problem and concern for both parents and dentists. It develops when the jaws are too small or the teeth are too big, and can exist simultaneously. If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, other teeth may shift into the vacant space, resulting in not enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt. The gums and bone around crowded teeth could become thin and recede in more severe cases of crowding. In these severe cases, the arches need to be expanded or teeth may need to be removed to create the needed space. On the other hand, large spacing occurs if teeth are small or missing, or if the arches have developed too wide.

The period of development during which the baby teeth are lost and permanent teeth erupt is extremely important. The placement of the primary teeth and when they fall out is also crucial. Permanent teeth should erupt in a fairly specific order. By the age of 7, children should have four permanent molars and two-to-four permanent incisors. Any significant deviation from the normal sequence could indicate crowded, missing, or extra teeth. If primary teeth were lost prematurely, patients may benefit from either an appliance that maintains the space where a tooth was, or the removal of a primary tooth to help minimize issues down the road.

Although teeth can be aligned when patients are older, crooked teeth in children can often lead to problems with chewing and function. Poorly positioned teeth are more susceptible to uneven wear or trauma, and can lead to periodontal (gum) and/or speech issues. Crooked teeth can also have negative social implications in children. Correcting maligned teeth at an earlier age not only improves chewing, but can also have a large impact on a child’s self-esteem.

If the top jaw is too narrow, kids often shift the lower jaw side to side to “find” a functional bite. This lateral shifting (crossbite) can lead to early tooth wear or asymmetric jaw growth. Early expansion of the upper jaw around the ages of 7-11 can eliminate crowding or shifting and improve irregular jaw growth.

Underbites occur when the lower jaw juts out ahead of the upper jaw, often making eating, swallowing, and speaking difficult. The condition is often hereditary, meaning that parents with underbites tend to have children with underbites. While we typically have to wait until the patient has finished growing to complete treatment, early detection is important so that the bite can be normalized to avoid any bite-shifting or damage to the front teeth. Patients with underbites who receive early treatment (between the ages of 7 and 10) are much less likely to need corrective jaw surgery later in life.

Early evaluation by an orthodontist can also identify an overbite, which is when a child’s upper teeth extend too far forward or the lower teeth don’t extend forward enough. The clinical term for this condition is 'overjet', and often indicates a poor bite and/or poor jaw growth. Thumb sucking in children is a common cause, creating flared teeth susceptible to being chipped or knocked out. While it isn’t always possible to completely correct the problem at a young age, early treatment can greatly reduce the severity of the problem and improve dental function and patient self-esteem.

It’s possible to detect vertical bite issues as early as age 7. Openbites occur when the top and bottom front teeth are unable to make contact when the jaws are closed. Often caused by a finger, thumb, or tongue habit, openbites can cause accelerated wear of the back teeth, speech impairments, and make eating and drinking difficult. Deep-bites occur when the top teeth completely cover the bottom teeth, potentially causing damage to the teeth and gums. Vertical problems normally worsen as the patient grows, making early detection and correction important.

While not every orthodontic problem can (or should) be treated at this age, an early screening at the age of 7 allows us to identify serious issues and correct them before they worsen. Many times, the best treatment decision is deciding to do nothing! The majority of kids are simply seen annually so we can monitor their progress if or until they are ready for treatment. If we see a situation that could benefit from early treatment, we’ll discuss the benefits of interceptive treatment. But most importantly, these visits allow us to launch into a fun, relaxed, and trusting doctor/patient relationship.

Halloween candy tips

October 30th, 2018

As a parent with 3 kids, I understand not wanting to ruin the fun of Halloween treats. That being said, there are some easy steps you can take to reduce the chances of cavitites as well as help to instill healthy habits-this goes for aduts too! We know that when any food is eaten, the natural bacteria in our mouths produce acid. It is this acid that eats away at the enamel of our teeth and causes tooth decay. It is possible to minimize the effect of all that sugar.

Start with a discussion before Halloween, thinking of ideas about what the family can do with all the candy from trick-or-treating. Our school typically collects candy for the troops after Halloween. This is a great way to give back to those who serve and reduce the number of those tempations around the house. Begin to establish some Halloween candy-eating guidelines. For instance, tell your own trick-or-treaters that they can pick out 25 pieces (or less) of the candy they most want.

Second, after the candy is brought home, help your children pick their treats they can keep. Sticky, gooey candy and items like lollipops and jawbreakers cause the most damage because they stay in the mouth for a long time compared to other candy treats. Plain chocolate bars or chocolate kisses turn out to be the better choices.

Third, eat Halloween candy (or any candy for that matter) immediately after a meal because the acid production from eating has already been activated. Keep in mind that eating candy between meals is not a good idea because of the extra acid it generates in the mouth.

Fourth, everybody should brush thier teeth after eating. If this is not possible or practical, then drink some water to wash away the sugars and starches. The longer these substances stay on your teeth, the more likely they are to cause cavities.

Last of all, keep the candy stash out of sight so no one will be tempted by it – parents included!

The Academy of General Dentistry reports that our nation consumes more than 7 billion pounds of candy each year and Halloween trick-or-treating contributes to a large percentage of that consumption. If we teach our children to use moderation, to make good choices, and to practice good dental hygiene, then it should be a Happy Halloween!

SO...... What is an Orthodontist and what does Dr. Varghese Do?

February 26th, 2014

Dr. Varghese is an orthodontist, meaning that he is a dental specialist that has not only completed college and 4 years of dental school from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998, then graduated from Marquette University Dental School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2002, but has also completed an additional 2 years residency program accredited by the ADA of advanced education in orthodontics in 2004 where he completed his Masters degree. After receiving the additional years of training and education, Dr. Varghese has learned the skills that are required to treat the misalignment of teeth and facial development with braces, retainers, headgear alternatives and other methods. Only a dentist that has completed the additional years of training and education after dental school is an orthodontist.

Varghese Orthodontics and Toys for Tots

December 4th, 2012

Varghese Orthodontics is teaming up with the US Marine Corps and is a collection site for Toys for Tots.

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.

We have a collection box in our front lobby and have started collecting toys for the less fortunate. Thank you to our wonderful patients that donated so far. Any patient that brings in a new unwrapped toy will have their name entered into a drawing for something special themselves as our way of saying "Thank you".

Let's try and make this a wonderful Christmas for as many children as we can!

Top 10 Myths about Orthodontics

November 29th, 2012

Top 10 Myths About Orthodontic Braces
By Stephen Yang, DMD, MS
Board Certified Orthodontist
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In my office, patients usually come in already knowing a lot about braces and orthodontics. However, what they have heard from friends or read online is not always correct. Below, I will share some common myths that patients have about orthodontic braces.

1. Braces have to hurt or feel tight to work—No pain no gain right? Well, not exactly. In the old days, only stiff wires were available. When tied to the dental braces, these stiff wires exerted heavy forces leading to more pain and discomfort for the patient. Now, with new technologies and flexible wires, there is significantly less discomfort associated with tooth movement. These days, you can have straight teeth with minimal discomfort. However, there are always some patients that complain about not having any pain because they think that without pain, their teeth are not moving. Remember, “It does not have to hurt to work!”

2. The tighter the better—A common comment I get from patients is, “Make it tighter, doc. I want to get my braces off faster!” You may think that tighter adjustments and heavier forces will move your teeth faster. While a certain level of force is necessary to move teeth, a force level that is too high may start to damage the bone and surrounding tissues. Orthodontics is a delicate balance of forces. Too much force may cause some teeth to move the wrong way and increase overall time you need braces.

3. Wires need to be changed every visit—Super-elastic wires of the present day can be bent into all different shapes and still spring back into their nice U-shaped form. If you have crooked teeth, the super-elastic wire can be connected to your crooked teeth and prove a steady light force to straighten them without needing to change the wire very often. With the limited wires of the old orthodontia days, if a wire was used that put too much pressure on a tooth, the bracket would either pop off the tooth or the wire would be permanently deformed and not move your teeth at all! That is why in the old days, orthodontic patients got many wires with incrementally higher stiffness, and these wires were changed more frequently.
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4. Only braces can straighten my teeth—Not necessarily. With new technology, it is now possible to have straight teeth without ever having to wear braces! Invisalign clear aligners are the most popular way to straighten teeth without braces. However, before you get too excited, know that Invisalign does have its limitations. For example, Invisalign may not be the best orthodontic option for fixing some bite problems or severely crooked teeth. The best way to see if Invisalign can straighten your teeth is to find an Invisalign orthodontist and schedule a consultation.
5. My spaces will start closing as soon as I get braces—Many people who get braces to close gaps between their teeth have the unrealistic expectation that the gaps will start closing as soon as they get braces. Often times, these patients are disappointed after a few months when their spaces have not closed (or have even gotten bigger. The issue with closing spaces is that is takes a controlled system of orthodontic braces and wires to close spaces. Often, the teeth need to be totally aligned before the spaces can begin to close. If spaces open up after getting braces, you may want to kindly ask your orthodontist about the new spaces, but rest assured that many patients get spaces early in braces which are closed later when the teeth are straighter.
6. Once I get my braces off, my teeth will stay straight forever—Getting your teeth straight and your bite right is just half the battle. Keeping your teeth straight after getting your braces off is the rest of the battle. Teeth are connected to the bone by elastic fibers. As the teeth are moved into their new straightened positions, some elastic fibers are stretched and others are compressed. After your braces are removed, these elastic fibers will tend to push and pull your teeth back towards their original position. That is why orthodontic retainers are required when braces are removed to keep your teeth straight.
7. My wisdom teeth are making my teeth crooked—You may think that wisdom teeth cause crowding. However, there is very little evidence to support the fact that wisdom teeth cause crowding. If this was true, then your teeth would never get crowded after your wisdom teeth were extracted. In fact, people who never developed wisdom teeth or who had their wisdom teeth removed may still see their teeth get crooked over time. Teeth just tend to drift forward over time regardless of whether or not you have wisdom teeth.
8. Any overbite is bad—If I had a dollar for every time a new patient complained of having an overbite, only to be told that their overbite is normal, if could probably have bought a car by now...ok, ok I'm exaggerating.  The point is that many patients think that having a mild overbite is a bad thing and this is wrong. People with zero overbite (whose teeth bite together in the front) actually start wearing down their front teeth over time. So a small overbite actually protects the front teeth from wearing down. Of course, a large overbite can be problematic so a small overbite of only two to three millimeters is ideal.
9. The date that I am supposed to get my braces off is set in stone—When patients are told before treatment that they will be in dental braces for a certain number of years, it is very easy to focus on that date. Usually, an orthodontist can judge from his or her experience what the typical time frame is to finish treatment. However this depends on many factors. Some factors that would slow down treatment include: broken braces, not brushing well, not coming in for regular appointments, and having dense bone. If you want to get your braces off on time, make sure you co-operate by brushing and flossing well, wearing your elastics, and showing up for your regular appointments.
10. It is easy to transfer or switch orthodontists—Though it may just look like braces and wires to you, every orthodontist uses slightly different wires, brackets, and appliances. Sometimes, the wires that one orthodontist uses would not even fit in the braces that another orthodontist uses. Each orthodontist also has his or her own technique in treating each case. For example, in creating that beautiful smile, some orthodontists may focus on correcting a bite problem first while other orthodontists may focus on straightening the teeth first. Sorting out the finances is another difficult part of switching orthodontists because different offices structure their payment plans in different ways. If you switch orthodontists, you probably will end up paying more money than if you had just stayed with one orthodontist.
 

Happy Veteran's Day from Varghese Orthodontics

November 12th, 2012

Happy Veteran’s Day! We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the veterans and those currently on active duty who have put their lives on the line for the freedoms we all enjoy.

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day--a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime

Did you know.... It's NEVER too late for Orthodontic Treatment!!

May 31st, 2012

In fact, the number of adults being treated rises every year due to improved dental health education. Currently, 25% of all orthodontic patients nationwide are adults!! Here at Varghese Orthodontics, we offer traditional braces, Invisalign and Damon Clear. Check out our new and improved interactive website!! It's all about your smile:)

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