A white, bright smile is an instant confidence booster. Not only does it make you look years younger, it also conveys a message of health and vitality. Only thing is … most people are not able to achieve a Hollywood-white smile with simple brushing and flossing. Teeth whitening can help you get the brighter, whiter smile you desire, but how exactly does it work?
That precious face – there’s no more beautiful site in the entire world. From a baby’s gummy smile to a graduation picture beaming with pride, our children’s smiles always warm our hearts like nothing else. So we pay close attention when something seems “off” about their developing teeth. One question we hear again and again at our orthodontic offices in Buckhead, Sandy Springs and College Park is, “Why does my child have white spots on her teeth?”
White spots on teeth are a common occurrence in childhood, and are nothing to be alarmed about. White spots on a child’s teeth are not dangerous and generally aren’t a symptom of anything serious. There are five common cases of white spots on teeth:
1. Acidic diet
Consuming too many acidic foods, such as lemonade, citrus fruits, and sodas, can eat away at the tooth enamel and cause white spots on the teeth. A diet high in sugar can do the same, as sugar can cause acidic plaque that damages tooth enamel. If an acidic diet is to blame for white spots on your child’s teeth, your child may also notice an increase in sensitivity to hot and cold because the damaged enamel is no longer strong enough to protect the nerves of the teeth from these common irritants.
Fluorosis is decay and discoloration of the teeth caused by developing teeth being exposed to too much fluoride. Most cases of fluorosis are brought on when a child swallows too much toothpaste while brushing or consumes too many fluoridated beverages. Always encourage your child to spit, not swallow, while brushing. Patients in our locations in Atlanta, Sandy Springs, College Park and Buckhead almost always have fluoridated city water in their homes – and that’s OK! Drinking too much fluoridated water is almost impossible to do. Fear of fluorosis is no reason to switch to bottled water.
3. Enamel hypoplasia
Enamel hypoplasia is underdeveloped tooth enamel, which may manifest as white spots on the teeth. Enamel hypoplasia is caused by a number of factors, including premature birth, malnutrition, bacterial or viral infections, or trauma to a developing mouth. Enamel hypoplasia can also be genetic, with no other known cause.
4. Plaque buildup after braces
It can be difficult for your child to keep their teeth perfectly clean with braces in the way. For that reason, plaque can build up around the brackets and cause white spots that are only usually apparent once the braces come off. These white spots of plaque buildup can be removed by your dentist.
5. Enamel dehydration
If you notice white spots on your child’s teeth that go away a few hours after waking, he or she may be sleeping with an open mouth. The front teeth of open-mouth sleepers dry out overnight, causing temporary white spots on the enamel that fade away once hydration from saliva is restored. You may notice this particularly when your child has a stuffy nose, which forces them to sleep with their mouth open.
Treatments for white spots on teeth
White spots on teeth are normally nothing to worry about. But if your child is self-conscious about their smile, there are several treatments for white spots.
Microabrasion – Microabrasion removes a thin layer of the tooth’s enamel to reduce the appearance of white spots.
Tooth whitening or bleaching – Whitening or bleaching the surface of the teeth can help mask the white spots by brightening the appearance of the teeth as a whole.
Fluoride treatments – If enamel hypoplasia is to blame for the white spots on your child’s teeth, fluoride treatments may be used to help strengthen the tooth enamel and get rid of the spots.
Composite resin – The same composite resin that dentists use to fill cavities can also be used to repair white spots on teeth. The section of tooth that is discolored will be removed with a dental drill, and then a tooth-matching resin will be applied to the tooth.
Dental veneers – Dental veneers are tiny tooth “jackets” that slip over the surface of the tooth and mask any imperfections such as white spots. The most costly of the white spot treatments, veneers are often not recommended for pediatric patients.
Want help your child have a door-opening great smile?
A great smile is a powerful asset. Help your child get the gorgeous smile they deserve by contacting Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists today. With locations all over Atlanta including College Park, Sandy Springs, Buckhead and Howell Mill, we’re close by no matter where you are. Call today to schedule your appointment.
It’s the big day – time to get your braces off! Your orthodontist takes off the brackets, you turn to the mirror and see… oh no. It looks like someone just took the pictures off the wall in an old, old house. Stains!
This is a nightmare we don’t want any of our Atlanta patients to ever have to go through! Brushing completely around braces is tough, and many patients notice that their teeth become slightly stained during braces treatment. But we’ve got some tips to help you ward off braces stains so you get the gleaming, white smile you want the day your braces come off!
1. Brush more than usual
Before you got braces, you were probably brushing in the morning and at night. Usually, that’s enough to keep your teeth clean and healthy (when you throw in a flossing a day). But when you have braces, it’s best to brush after every single meal. Each bursting is less effective when you’re wearing braces, you’ve got to pick up the slack with more frequent brushing. Brushing often will help you avoid stains and plaque build-up around your brackets.
2. Skip foods that stain
Staying away from drinks like coffee and tea and condiments like mustard and ketchup can go a long way toward preventing stains when you have braces. If you must drink a staining beverage, at least use a straw. We understand that it’s very difficult to give up foods and drinks that you love. But remember, this is only temporary!
3. Don’t use whitening toothpaste
It might seem counterintuitive to avoid whitening toothpaste while trying to avoid stains, but it really is a good idea. Using whitening toothpaste while wearing braces can cause the tooth surface around the bracket to become lighter than the tooth surface underneath the bracket – leading to dark spots in the center of your teeth.
4. Use floss and mouthwash
Your toothbrush isn’t going to be as effective when you’re wearing braces, so just like our advice to brush more often, we also advise our orthodontic patients in Sandy Springs, Buckhead, College Park and other area of Atlanta kick up their flossing and mouthwash use. Where brushes can’t reach, very likely, floss can – and mouthwash definitely can! The cleaner your teeth stay, the less likely you’ll see stains when your braces come off.
5. Have regular dental cleanings
Even when you do your absolute best to keep your teeth clean while wearing braces, no one can clean your teeth better than your dental hygienist! Make sure you’re keeping all your regularly scheduled dental cleanings, which usually happen every six months. Your hygienist will be able to check your teeth for stains and may be able to remove some while your braces are still on – prepping you for a more exciting “braces off” day.
Ready for a gleaming Atlanta smile?
Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists helps people all over Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Buckhead, College Park, and Howell Mill achieve straight, gorgeous smiles. If you or your child are ready to start the braces journey, schedule your appointment to come see us today.
Your child can finally brush his or her teeth – congrats! All the hard work you put into teaching the proper brushing is finally paying off. Next up, it’s time to tackle teaching your child to floss. Though flossing can be tricky for little hands, it’s critical to teach your child to floss early so flossing becomes a regular part of their oral health routine – paving the way for a lifetime of healthy teeth!
If you’ve been wondering how to teach your child to floss, here are 5 tips that can help.
As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, they should start flossing. That means that you’ll be doing the flossing for the first couple years, but every time you do it, remember, you’re instilling the importance of flossing. Flossing should start between the ages of 2 and 3. By age 6 or 7, your child should be able to floss on their own.
Floss your teeth, too!
Kids love to mimic every little thing they see their parents doing. Let your child see you floss your teeth every morning, after lunch, or before bedtime. Not only will they learn the skills of flossing from watching you, but they’ll see that flossing is a regular part of dental hygiene. Kids are the best copycats on Earth. Use that to your advantage!
Getting floss into that adorable little mouth is gonna be a mouthful whether it’s you doing the flossing or your child. Flossers, also called dental floss picks, make it easy to reach teeth all the way in the back of your child’s mouth without over-stretching their lips or jaw. Yes, these are more expensive than regular floss, and not as environmentally friendly. However, in these precious early years of learning to floss, it is important to provide a pleasant flossing experience so that flossing ends up with a good connotation, not being associated with pain and discomfort.
Encourage the swerve.
Many children hurt their gums when they start flossing because they jam the floss straight down into their gum line. Teach your child to hold the floss tight against the tooth and to gently “swerve” the floss all the way down the tooth and slightly under the gemlike. Straight lines are bad! Swerving the floss to the shape of the tooth is good!
Let your child choose their tools.
Take your child shopping and let them pick out their own flossers, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and more. Treat it like a trip to get a toy – build the excitement and make it fun! Another good tip – don’t stock up too much in advance. Keep the excitement fresh by buying new flossers, brushes, and toothpaste often.
Want to set your child up for a lifetime of beautiful smiles?
Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists is the headquarters for beautiful smiles in and around Atlanta. Schedule your consultation today and find out why kids love AOS!
Ready to have the photo-ready smile that opens doors both personally and professionally? As an adult, you may be considering Invisalign, and wondering how it stacks up against other tooth straightening methods such as braces. This Invisalign pros and cons list will help you decide if these popular invisible aligners are the right choice for you.
2.5 million people across the world have chosen Invisalign to straighten their teeth, and for good reason. Invisalign offers a number of benefits over braces, especially for adults. If you’re looking to improve your self-image and look good doing it, Invisalign may be for you.
Invisalign is faster than braces
Not looking forward to spending a 24 whopping months in braces as an adult? Who could blame you? Invisalign treatment for adults takes typically half that treatment time of braces. In approximately 12 months, you can go from your current smile to a Hollywood smile with Invisalign.
Invisalign is, well, invisible (almost)
Braces looks great on kids and teens. Getting new rubber bands in all the season’s hot colors is always fun and exciting! But on an adult, braces can look very much out of place.
Invisalign gets its name from being … invisible! Invisalign aligners are made from a medical grade plastic that’s clear. When you’re wearing your Invisalign aligners, no one will know but you! Besides the fact that Invisalign aligners work far faster than traditional braces for adults, their style-savvy transparency is the most popular reason patients choose Invisalign over braces to straighten their teeth.
Invisalign works with your lifestyle
We recommend that you wear your Invisalign aligners for 22 hours every day, taking them out only to eat and brush your teeth. But if you’ve got a date or a social event and you don’t feel like wearing your aligners, you can take them out.
Invisalign Cons for Adults
Every silver lining comes with a cloud. There are a couple places where Invisalign falls short of braces – compliance and cost.
Invisalign costs more than braces.
The average cost of braces in the United States in 2020 is between $3,000 and $6,000. The average cost of Invisalign in the U.S. is between $3,000 and $8,000. Fortunately, many dental insurance companies will cover the cost of braces or Invisalign.
Invisalign only works if you stick to it.
Being able to take out your Invisalign aligners when you want is one of the biggest benefits of choosing Invisalign over braces. But that can be a problem if you forget to put them back in or take them out too often. So with Invisalign, you’ve got to be committed to sticking with treatment. With braces, compliance is 100% because you can’t take them out! If you’re the type of person that finds it hard to stick to a routine, braces could be a better choice, because they take the option of compliance out of your hands.
Ready to try Invisalign?
Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists helps adults all over the Atlanta metro area achieve the great smiles they crave with Invisalign. Schedule your Invisalign consultation today!
Flossing – Good for more than your teeth!
Flossing is the overachieving little brother of brushing that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Not only is flossing good for preventing cavities, but it also has a long list of other benefits that many people don’t even know about!
If you skip flossing because you think it’s “not doing that much,” read on! There are a ton of benefits to flossing that you definitely want to cash in on.
- Flossing prevents bad breath
- Ever had bad breath even right after brushing your teeth? If you didn’t floss, that’s probably why. The food particles that get stuck in between your teeth are a breeding ground for stink-causing bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach. The less you floss, the longer the food particles in between your teeth have to “rot” in your mouth as the bacteria feeds on them. Rot = bad breath.
If you struggle from bad breath and always find yourself reaching for gum or a breath mint, try flossing every day. It may be the solution you’ve been hoping for!
- The link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease is undeniable, even though science still isn’t exactly sure how it works. One theory is that the overload of bacteria in the mouth works its way into the bloodstream and causes inflammation in the heart and blood vessels. Another is that periodontal disease sets off the body’s immune response, which causes inflammation in other parts of the body. Either way, what we do know for sure is that a healthy mouth is good for your overall health. So start flossing. Your heart will thank you.
- Flossing, as part of a healthy dental hygiene regimen, helps prevent periodontal disease. Not only is this important for the health of your teeth and gums, but periodontal disease has been linked to a host of other inflammatory diseases as well, such as diabetes, stroke, pregnancy complications, rheumatoid arthritis, and even dementia.
- Ever heard the phrase “long in the tooth?” It comes from being able to tell a horse’s age by looking at its teeth – because as horses (and humans) age, gums tend to recede, leading to longer-looking teeth.
Flossing can help prevent the gum recession that leads to an older-looking smile. And since flossing helps to prevent periodontal disease, flossing also protects your youthful smile from bone loss that can lead to the “shrunken jaw” look we tend to associate with the elderly.
- If your gums bleeds when you floss, you might think that flossing is the problem. It’s not. Most of the time, bleeding gums are caused by gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Along with bleeding gums, if you have gingivitis, you may also notice that your gums are red, swollen, tender, and inflamed. Not a good look – and not a comfortable way to live, either.
Flossing can help your inflamed gums heal and return to their normal strength, color, and sensitivity. By removing the plaque that harbors bacteria that causes gingivitis, flossing daily will help your gums return to normal. Don’t be alarmed if your gums bleed every time you floss at first. Stick with it and you will see results!
Want to protect your oral health?
Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists can help you protect and preserve your healthy smile for a lifetime. Schedule an appointment today at one of our many locations around Atlanta.
Should I get my wisdom teeth removed?
Wisdom teeth removal is almost a rite of passage for teenagers and has been for generations. But not everyone actually needs to have their wisdom teeth out! Should you get your wisdom teeth removed? Only an orthodontist or oral surgeon can tell you for sure, but here’s the lowdown on who needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, who doesn’t, and what happens after you’ve made your decision.
What are wisdom teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars, the ones in the very, very back of your mouth. They typically come in when a person is between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to come in.
Why do people have their wisdom teeth removed?
Some people keep their wisdom teeth all their lives with no problems. But many other people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed on the recommendation of their orthodontist or oral surgeon. Common reasons to remove wisdom teeth include:
- They’re impacted – Because of their position very far back in the mouth, wisdom teeth often become impacted, meaning that they do not erupt normally and are instead trapped in the jawbone or under the gums. This can be very painful for the patient, and removal is the only permanent option to find relief.
- They erupt at an incorrect angle – When wisdom teeth come in at the wrong angle, they can push the other teeth out of alignment, which can lead to crooked teeth and a misaligned bite.
- There’s not enough room – People with small mouths may not have room to accommodate the extra wisdom teeth, which could lead to pain as well as moving the other teeth out of alignment.
What happens if I don’t have my wisdom teeth removed?
Not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed. If you’re one of those lucky people, you shouldn’t have any complications from keeping your wisdom teeth for life.
But if your wisdom teeth are impacted, coming in at the wrong angle, or there isn’t enough room in your mouth to accommodate them, you might experience one of more of the following issues if you don’t have them removed:
- Pericoronitis – A wisdom tooth that has partially erupted can lead to pericoronitis, an inflammation of the tissue around the wisdom teeth that causes severe pain, swelling, bad breath and even lockjaw.
- Cysts – An impacted wisdom tooth can develop a cyst that surrounds the tooth. These cysts can lead to bone and gum damage.
- Misaligned bite – You may have spent years in braces achieving a great smile and a healthy bite. But if your wisdom teeth come in and shove your other teeth out of place, both your teeth and bite can be negatively affected. Crooked teeth aren’t just an aesthetic issue – a improperly aligned bite can cause pain, tooth wear, and jaw issues.
What age should I have my wisdom teeth removed?
This number varies from dentist to dentist, and you’re never technically “too old” to have your wisdom teeth removed. At Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists, we recommend that our patients have their wisdom teeth removed in their teens, before the teeth start causing any additional problems or damage.
Should you get your wisdom teeth removed?
Schedule your appointment with Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists and find out! With locations all over the Atlanta metro area, there’s sure to be an office close to you.
Does your child have bad oral habits, like thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting? If so, you should know that there are painless ways to help your child to break those bad habits—and have better, stronger teeth as a result. If you’re at your wit’s end in trying to break these habits on your own, maybe it’s time for orthodontic intervention.
What is a “habit appliance?”
A habit appliance is a painless and drama-free way to finally rid your child of behaviors that can adversely affect their oral development. Though these behaviors are common in very young children, but if they continue past the first few years of life, they can cause an improper bite later on down the road. That’s why it’s so important to address (and intervene) as early as possible.
Unlike over-the-counter mouth appliances, which are more commonly made for adult-sized mouths, a habit appliance can be custom-created specifically to address your child’s unique situation, age, mouth size, and growth. Since it’s temporarily secured into your child’s mouth and affixed to their teeth, often during sleep, it typically doesn’t come out and get lost. And though it prevents improper bite, it does not change the shape of your child’s mouth or teeth.
How does it work?
The habit appliance’s job is to make the act of tongue thrusting or thumb sucking slightly uncomfortable and more difficult, which subtly discourages your child from continuing with the behavior. The more challenging the behavior, the less likely it is to continue.
Why thumb-sucking is not good
While your child’s teeth are still developing, anything that consistently puts pressure on the newly emerging teeth and continually growing palate can cause bite issues. This pressure can be caused by both thumb-sucking and pacifier use. Although most children stop using a pacifier between the ages of two and four, many have a harder time breaking the habit – and that’s where the real problems can start, as baby teeth start to become replaced.
The pressure and repeated action can cause several unwanted changes to the skeletal growth of the mouth, potentially causing problems like open bite (top and bottom teeth can’t meet up when mouth is closed); protruding front teeth; crowding; overbite and palate constriction.
What about tongue thrusting?
Tongue thrusting is when a child pushes their tongue through the spaces between their front teeth while speaking, swallowing and sometimes even at rest. Tongue thrusting is common in babies who are breast or bottle feeding, and they usually grow out naturally as they learn to swallow more effectively.
For some children, the habit continues longer, putting continuous pressure on the growing mouth that can lead to many of the same issues as thumb-sucking, but also sleep disturbances.
Does wearing a habit appliance hurt?
Not at all. Though there may be an adjustment period, a habit appliance is completely painless. The only time your child will even feel the appliance is when their tongue, thumb or fingers rub against it.
You walk past your pre-teen’s room and hear an unusual noise. You step closer to the door and listen more carefully: It’s a grinding or clenching sound, like a machine is working overtime in your child’s mouth. What’s going on, and why might it cause orthodontic problems as your child grows older?
A stressful time
Pre-teen years are known to be stressful, as it’s also the time of many physical changes in a child’s life. But the emotional toll can be even higher, and that’s why teeth-grinding (or bruxism, as it’s known clinically) can be an issue that leads to better oral as well as emotional health, once the issues behind it are known and out in the open. Of course, much younger kids can also experience bruxism – and the younger they are, the more likely the cause is something on more of a subconscious level. Either way, it can be difficult for your child to express what is bothering them—and that’s why early support and intervention are so important.
Finding the source
First of all, you should know that bruxism can be a very normal experience for many kids. In fact, even though two to three out of every 10 kids may have it at some point in their lives, most eventually outgrow it naturally. Many stop doing it as soon as they lose all their baby teeth. Talk to your child openly about their feelings, and try to figure out what is causing them to stress out. Is it school, friends, or problems at home? Are they struggling in some way with the changes their body is experiencing? Be a good listener and reassure your child that these feelings can be very normal—and are always temporary.
Bruxism often happens unconsciously during deep sleep phases or when kids are under periodic or situational stress – so figuring out what is stressing them and finding healthier ways to manage that stress will go a long way toward eliminating nightly grinding. Exercise, yoga, therapy, and sometimes medication can help. The key is always to help them find healthier ways to work out their emotional issues during their conscious hours, so that their brains don’t work overtime while they are trying to sleep.
What can be done about it?
Keeping an eye on the situation, listening, and providing emotional support for your child can go a long way toward eliminating bruxism. Of course, regular dental and orthodontic visits can also help keep the problem in check until the issues resolve themselves or respond to intervention. In cases where the grinding and clenching make a child’s face and jaw sore or damage the teeth, we may prescribe a special night guard. This can help to avoid painful problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), headaches, and tooth displacement later on in your child’s life. Also, since many adults also suffer from bruxism, it is critical to teach relaxation techniques as well as train the mouth to respond positively to appliances such as mouth guards, since bruxism can become a lifelong issue to manage.
We’re open again! Shutting down our orthodontic offices for COVID was necessary to keep our staff and patients safe, but we sure did miss seeing all of your smiling faces in the office. Now that we’re taking patients again, many people are asking “Is it safe to go to the orthodontist during COVID?” So we wanted to address that question in a blog.
Being safe in COVID comes down to taking the right precautions, whether you’re going to the orthodontist, the grocery store, or school. We know that this virus is here to stay, at least until a vaccine is developed. So until then, keeping yourself safe is a matter of following the recommended guidelines from the CDC and using common sense.
We’re taking all kinds of precautions to make sure our staff and our patients stay safe from COVID at our orthodontist office. From the minute you walk in our door, you’ll see tons of changes we’ve made in an effort to kick COVID to the curb.
Here are some things we’re doing to make sure it’s safe to go to the orthodontist in COVID:
- Masks are required to enter our office. Every person in our office is required to wear a mask at all times, except for when the patient is sitting in the chair being examined. Forgot your mask? Don’t worry. We’ll provide one for you.
- Waiting room is “patients only”. To help with social distancing, we’re only letting patients wait in our waiting room. Of course, parents of a young patient may stay. But for everyone else, we ask that you let us know how you’d like to be contacted so we can call or text you when your patient is ready for pickup.
- Special precautions over aerosols. We’ve always followed PPE guidelines to prevent the spread of blood-borne illnesses. Since COVID is a respiratory illness, we’ve stepped our precautions up a few notches. In particular, we’ve taken new measures to make sure that saliva and respiratory droplets (aerosols) are not blasted into the air, as that’s how COVID is transmitted. We’re also taking precautions to stop aerosols from spreading around the office, such as partitions and extra-oral suction devices.
- Staggered appointments – We’re booking fewer appointments at the same time so we limit the number of people in the office at once and can maintain social distancing.
- Tooth brushing is no longer allowed – That’s something you never expected to hear from an orthodontist’s office, isn’t it?!? Please brush and floss at home before you get to your appointment. We’ve closed the common tooth-brushing area to prevent cross-contamination.
- Temperature checks. We are checking the temperature of everyone that walks in our door. Anyone that present with a fever will be asked to reschedule for another day.
- Antiseptic rinse. Every patient is required to rinse with Peroxyl, an antiseptic mouth rinse, for 60 seconds at the beginning of the appointment. This rinsing reduces the amount of microbes in the mouth as an added layer of protection to our staff and fellow patients.
- Air purifiers and evacuation systems. We have installed air purifiers and high velocity evacuation systems to trap aerosols quickly and efficiently throughout the office. This prevents the spread of respiratory droplets throughout the office.
- All of our staff is wearing PPE – Staff members are required to wear medical grade PPE to prevent the spread of germs to and from the patients and each other. The level of PPE needed will depend on their particular assignment and sometimes even the specific type of appointment.
We’re working hard to keep you safe
The COVID pandemic can seem scary, but when we all do our part to keep each other safe, we can make a real difference. All of our precautions are for your benefit as well as the safety of our staff. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding during this time. We won’t let COVID keep our patients from getting the orthodontic care they need to have beautiful forever smiles!