The marvels of modern medicine are plenty, from fighting cancer with genetically modified viruses, to discovering cures for “incurable” diseases like Hepatitis C, not to mention the mind-boggling feat of transplanting faces from one person to another! Although science and technology have completely transformed medicine, dentistry has sometimes lagged behind. In no other field would it be normal to wait until a part of your body decays so badly that the doctor must numb you up and cut it off – but that’s what happens every day in dental offices across the country.
That’s not how we do it at Harris Dental Arts. The bottom line: if you have a lot of tooth and gum issues, and your dentist is repeatedly fixing these problems, they could be caused by your teeth not being in the right place and not coming together correctly. It could be time to talk functional orthodontics.
Three signs that you may need functional orthodontics:
1) Your teeth keep cracking and breaking.
Our tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our entire body. Did you know you bring your teeth together over 10,000 times a day? Mother Nature designed our enamel to sustain your bite and deal with all that pressure, but only if your teeth are all aligned properly.
Think of it this way: the tires on your car are designed to wear down evenly. If your mechanic insists that the front passenger side tire needs replacing four times as often as the others, would you think it’s the rubber or the alignment that’s the problem? The same goes for your teeth. If they keep developing stress lines or breaking off in pieces, it may be that you teeth are not aligned in the way Mother Nature intended. In that case, you will continue to break those same teeth over and over again.
2) Your gum tissue is really red and puffy.
Do you have a love/hate relationship with your dental hygienist? Despite all the religious flossing and brushing, are your six-month cleanings still a bloodbath? If your teeth are crowded or crooked, all the floss and waterpiks in the world won’t be able to help. When teeth are overlapping and crowded, there are way more nooks and crannies for bacteria to live in and it is far more difficult for you to clean all of that bacteria away. If your teeth were arranged like a white picket fence, regular flossing and brushing would be able to sweep away all that junk away with minimal effort.
3) Your gums are receding, right in front of your eyes.
Did you know the old phrase, “getting long in the tooth,” is a dentally accurate one? The saying connects age with gum recession, which is when the gum line keeps dragging down along the roots of your teeth and leaves more tooth to stand above the gums.
Though this is a natural aging process, it should be uniform in the mouth, meaning that all your gums shrink down at the same rate.
However, you may have noticed particular teeth having a lot of recession, while their neighboring teeth are perfectly fine. In this case, it’s not a hard bristle brush or excessively heavy tooth-brushing that’s to blame. Instead, it’s the fact that the single “long” tooth is most likely hitting with uneven or excessively heavy pressure against its upper or lower neighbor. These teeth also could be the ones that keep breaking down on you, appointment to appointment (refer to #1).
What other symptoms are there?
Beyond these three major culprits, you may be experiencing other related issues like:
- Cold sensitivity, on specific teeth or generalized areas
- Annoying food traps between teeth
- Headaches, or jaw or muscle pain
- Bad breath
- Chronic cheek, lip or tongue biting
If these signs are familiar to you, then your teeth may actually need to be realigned. With the help of functional orthodontics, we can get things back in line.
What will my functional orthodontic treatment look like?
That’s a hard question to answer without a doctor examining your unique mouth, but most commonly, we see a need for an alignment system – something that will gradually move your teeth over time, slowly and comfortably, so they get back in line. But this doesn’t always mean braces; in fact, you may have heard of Invisalign, which is a nearly invisible set of clear plastic aligners that are customized to fit your mouth. These clear trays correct crowding or spacing, and realign your teeth to fit as Mother Nature intended, without the cosmetic drawbacks of metal braces. We can’t promise that Invisalign will work for you, but Harris Dental Arts most commonly uses Invisalign to right the alignment wrongs happening in your mouth.
We may also combine invisible aligners with other cosmetic treatments such as gum sculpting, or polishing, to put the finishing touches on your new smile.
A visit with your dentist is the only way to really tell what’s going on, and what the right solution is for you. Schedule an appointment today, so Dr. Kim can take a look!