My Blog

Posts for: September, 2014

By Constance E. Smith, DDS
September 23, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: retainers  

Your braces have finally been removed and you’ve unveiled your new smile to the world. You’re finished with orthodontics — right?

Not quite. If you want to “retain” your new smile you’ll need to wear a retainer appliance: depending on your age and which teeth were moved, that could be for several months or even indefinitely.

Retainers are necessary because of how teeth naturally move within the mouth. Although your teeth may seem rigidly set in bone, they’re actually held in place by an elastic tissue called the periodontal ligament. This tissue is quite dynamic in response to biting forces or even normal tooth wear. When forces are applied to a tooth, it’s the ligament that transmits pressure against the teeth to gradually move them to a more accommodating position. In response, the bone resorbs (dissolves) on the side of the tooth moving toward the new position while laying down new growth on the other side. This bone growth will help anchor the tooth in the new position.

Braces use this natural process to gradually move teeth; both the ligament and bone will reform as needed. But this reforming process takes time. Furthermore, there’s a natural balance between the teeth, the tongue and the lips and cheeks. Although the new position created by orthodontics may be more aesthetically pleasing, it may disrupt the natural balance of these surrounding muscles. The influence of habits like clenching or grinding of your teeth may also disturb the new tooth position. The natural tendency is to revert back to the original tooth position.

We use retainers to prevent this reversal. Nearly all orthodontic patients will initially wear them all the time, and for younger patients this may be reduced to wear only during sleep time. Total wear time usually lasts a minimum of eighteen months, until the bone and ligament have fully reformed.

For older patients, though, retainer wear may need to continue indefinitely to prevent “relapse.” In these long-term cases another option to a removable retainer is to permanently bond thin retainer wires to the inside surfaces of the front teeth. The wires can remain in place for several years and are much less noticeable than a removable retainer.

While retainers are often considered inconvenient, they’re absolutely necessary for preserving the results of orthodontic treatment. In the end they’ll help you keep the form and function of your new smile.

If you would like more information on orthodontic retainers, 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 “Why Orthodontic Retainers?

By Constance E. Smith, D.D.S.
September 09, 2014
Category: Dentistry
Tags: teeth whitening  

Having a bright white smile comes with countless benefits ranging from better social experiences to getting better treatment in work situations. AsTeeth Whitening superficial as it may seem, people really do place a high value on the way your teeth look -- especially at first meetings. Explore that various options you have for whitening your teeth with Jackson, MI dentist Dr. Constance E. Smith, D.D.S. of Connect, Create, Smile Family and Cosmetic Dentistry so that you can put your very best smile forward.

What Causes Yellowing Teeth?
Human teeth are made of calcium, phosphorus and other hard materials. When healthy they are strong, durable and resistant to damage, but over time the teeth can yellow and even take on a brownish tint for a variety of reasons. The most common cause of yellowing teeth is eating or drinking certain foods that are allowed to penetrate the enamel. Coffee, tea, wine, tomato sauce, berries and similar foods are often the worst culprits. Another common reason is the natural process of aging -- especially when the teeth aren’t properly maintained.

Tooth Whitening Options
The natural solution to yellowing teeth is to get them whitened using a bleaching agent. Over the counter solutions don't always give patients the level of whitening power that they need. If you want significant results, you have two main options for getting your teeth whitened. The first option is to ask Jackson, MI dentist Dr. Smith to prescribe you a take-home dental kit so that you can do it yourself. The process takes several weeks. The other, often more popular, option is to have your teeth whitening session done at the dentist's office. The dentist uses a professional grade bleaching agent and tools that give fast results (usually under an hour).

A Brighter Future Is Ahead
For teeth whitening Jackson residents can turn to Dr. Constance E. Smith, D.D.S. You may be very pleasantly surprised at the amazing results when you get your teeth brightened at her relaxed, modern dentist office. Dr. Smith’s own bright sparkly smile is proof enough that you’re in good hands. Visit our website to request an appointment online or call the office at (517) 787-7520.

By Constance E. Smith, DDS
September 08, 2014
Category: Oral Health

For years, even as tobacco use began to decline and disappear in most settings, professional baseball seemed one of the few exceptions. Now, the tide is finally turning. Recently, the legendary right-hand pitcher Curt Schilling revealed that he had been treated for oral cancer — and said that his chewing tobacco habit was to blame. “I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got [cancer],” Schilling told the Boston Globe.

Schilling isn’t the only former player whose oral cancer is blamed on smokeless tobacco. Tony Gwynn, Hall of Famer and beloved coach, recently passed away from oral cancer at the age of 54. His death led to players pledging to give up the habit. But many still use “dip” or “snuff,” thinking perhaps it’s not so bad after all.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. With nicotine as its active ingredient, chewing tobacco can be just as addictive as cigarettes. Not only is nicotine addictive, it also increases heart rate and blood pressure, constricts the arteries, and affects the body in other ways. In addition to nicotine, chewing tobacco contains about 30 other chemicals known to cause cancer.

Tobacco use of any kind is a major risk factor for oral cancer. While it isn’t as well-known as some other types of cancer, oral cancer can be just as deadly. About 43,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year — and the 5-year survival rate is just 57%. One reason for the relatively low survival rate is that oral cancer isn’t usually detected until it has reached a later stage, when it’s much harder to treat.

What can you do to reduce your risk for oral cancer? Clearly, you should stop using tobacco products of any kind. Moderating your intake of alcohol, and eating more plant foods and less red meat can also have an impact. And don’t forget to have regular dental checkups: cancer’s warning signs can often be recognized in an oral examination — and early detection can boost survival rates to 80-90 percent.

How does Schilling feel about chewing tobacco now? “I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff,” he told the Globe. “I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once.”

If you have questions about oral cancer or cancer prevention, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Chewing Tobacco” and “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”