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Rapid Maxillary Expansion in Children

At iSmile Orthodontics, we recommend that children visit their orthodontist around the age of seven. This is the prime age to ensure baby teeth and jaw alignment are in the correct place before the adult teeth grow in. It can also curb the need for extensive orthodontic treatment on adult teeth, which can be costly and time-consuming.

A first visit will involve a simple check and consultation, with some photographs to observe the alignment of your child’s teeth. In some cases, Phase 1 treatment will begin, which aids the growth of teeth into adulthood. This can either be as preparation for Phase 2 – braces – or as a preventative measure for any further treatment.

Rapid maxillary expansion is a common treatment, especially for children, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. Also called palatal expansion, this treatment is carried out when the upper jaw is too narrow for proper growth, which often results in crowded teeth on the upper level. In some children, this can look like a ‘V’ shape with the front teeth crossing or pointing inwards.

The appliance is attached to two molars, one on each side, with an expanding mechanism in the middle at the roof of the mouth. The expansion part in the middle is operated by a ‘key’ which is turned to exert pressure on the teeth to expand the jaw. Your child may experience some discomfort or pressure around the middle of their face after turning the appliance, but this will soon go away.

Each maxillary expansion appliance is made to fit each patient specifically, and we will talk both you and your child through the process along the way. You will begin to see results within a week, which may form through gaps in the front teeth. This is the teeth beginning to shift and make room for proper growth.

iSmile Orthodontics treats each patient separately and make them comfortable in every procedure. As you will be assisting your child with turning the appliance in the beginning, we like to make sure you are both fully aware and happy with what you’ll need to do. Children may be resistant to the idea of orthodontic treatment, but the great thing about a maxillary expansion appliance is that it is almost invisible from view, so they can continue their school life with little to no difference. You will both see progress very quickly and this appliance may even prevent future orthodontic treatment.

Take a look at our results page to see some of our success stories in early orthodontic treatment of children, including rapid maxillary expansion that have either acted as a precursor to Phase 2 treatment, or reduce future treatment. This simple and effective treatment means that baby teeth can finish growing fully to make way for adult teeth to begin growing in the correct and more comfortable place.

The Best Post-Braces Treatment for You

If you are coming to the end of wearing your braces, you are probably looking forward to running your tongue along your smooth, straight teeth and enjoying flashing your pearly whites to the world for the first time. While orthodontic treatment today is smooth, efficient, and subtle, it is still a nice feeling to be without braces once again. However, the removal of your braces is not quite the end of your orthodontic treatment. In order to maintain your healthy straight teeth and prevent your teeth from moving back after the removal, you’ll need a retainer. Let’s take a look at the options for your post-brace treatment.

Clear retainers
The majority of our patients wear clear retainers after their braces have been removed. They are created usingadvanced technology to create a 3D impression of your teeth that slot in place, hugging each tooth perfectly with an invisible clear material. They are easy to clean, subtle, long-lasting, and an effective way to keep teeth in place.

Most patients at iSmile Orthodontics will be required to wear a clear retainer at night for up to 12 hours for the first year after braces treatment. After that you will slowly wean down the time worn to every second or third night until you are just wearing them once a week at night as a lifelong treatment. It is important you keep this up as your teeth can move back, years after the end of your treatment, if the retainer is not regularly worn.

Cleaning clear retainers involves a gentle brushing with water and a very mild dish soap or baking soda, but not toothpaste. You should also soak it in water every once in a while. We recommend you pop into iSmile Orthodontics for regular checkups to make sure your clear retainer is still in good shape.

Fixed Retainer
A fixed retainer is a small piece of wire attached to the back of your teeth, either at the top or the bottom, or both and are affixed across 4-6 teeth. A fixed retainer is usually recommended for those whose teeth problems are related to their front teeth. These problems are usually to do with natural gaps or protruding teeth that will likely shift back to their original position without anything in place.

While a fixed retainer is bonded to your teeth and irremovable, it is also invisible, even to you once you are used to it. Fixed retainers can be cleaned with a simple toothbrushing like the rest of your teeth. However, you are unable to floss around the teeth with the wire, so you’ll need to visit your dentistfor a dental clean on a regular basis to remove any built up plaque or rogue pieces of food. But once your fixed retainer is in place, there is no more upkeep for the rest of your life! This is a popular choice for adults and children alike at iSmile Orthodontics.

What You Need to Know About Flossing

Flossing is a topic that often divides people. It’s one of those little things that everyone knows they should be doing, but just never seem to get around to doing. It’s like updating your resume or doing those hardcore abs workouts. While even the title of this blog may have put you off, it’s important to learn a few things about flossing, especially if you are a wearer of braces or retainers. It’s not such a daunting concept, we promise!

There have been many arguments recently about how flossing may not be the necessary dental technique it is regaled as. But don’t think that lack of evidence means it’s harmful or not helpful in any way – it likely just means the evidence has not been 100% proven yet. Most dentists and orthodontists recommend flossing because it reduces the risk of gum disease and helps remove plaque. Flossing regularly, and properly, gets plaque from those hard-to-reach areas that brushing just can’t access. If that plaque builds up it can harden and form tartar, which can lead to gum disease. So, it’s pretty important after all.

How often
In an ideal world, everyone would be flossing every day. But if you miss a day or two, don’t stress too much. It doesn’t matter what time of day you reach for the floss, before or after brushing is fine, but aim for at least four times a week, and particularly after a meal with ingredients like spinach that might hang around for a while in your teeth.

Technique is important when it comes to flossing. You won’t keep that perfect smile and healthy teeth just by flossing half-heartedly for a minute or so. You should:

  • Give yourself enough floss, at least 40cm or more;
  • Wrap each end around the index or middle finger of both hands;
  • Work slowly and methodically, around the top and bottom of your mouth;
  • Work the floss in slowly, using a gentle back and forth ‘sawing’ motion;
  • Cup the floss around each tooth in a ‘C’ shape then work up and down to remove the plaque;
  • Use a fresh piece of floss for each gap, wrapping and unwrapping the floss as you go.

Flossing with braces
Admittedly, flossing with braces can be a more time-consuming process. It’s a good idea to use a mirror, and choose a time when you know you won’t be rushed or likely to do a half-hearted job. Keep the above tips in mindbut as well as flossing between your teeth, you’ll also need to thread the floss beneath the wire. Once you’ve got the floss under the wire, you can then thread it between the teeth. Instead of bringing the floss back up to the top of the tooth, you’ll need to pull the floss out at the bottom, nearer the gum, to avoid catching the wire or possibly breaking a bracket.

Flossing alternatives
If you aren’t a fan of the usual manual technique, there are alternatives available. If you also happen to have a fixed retainer, you’ll need to use these as a normal thread of floss just won’t cut it.

Waterpik – this device shoots pressurised water in between your teeth, working away plaque in the same manner a piece of floss would. Handy for getting in between those braces or retainers.

Small brushes – these small, bendy brushes on a stick are flexible enough to get between wires and teeth and the bristles of the brush can get between teeth as well.

Superfloss – this one is normal floss with plastic-tipped ends that you are able to thread between your braces more easily than you can with normal thread, taking most of the hassle out of flossing with braces and keeping your straight teeth and perfect smile in order.

Orthodontics And Bruxism

Between 10 and 30 per cent of the population suffers from bruxism, the practice of grinding your teeth against one another. Over time, this habit can cause enamel erosion, leading to damaged teeth, jaw disorders and other dental problems. Typically attributed to stress and anxiety, there is another common cause of bruxism: misalignment of your jawbones. While we should all be taking steps to reduce our stress levels, this is often easier said than done and can never be entirely eliminated from our modern lives. However, with iSmile Orthodontics, most alignment issues causing bruxism can be treated successfully with braces, retainers and night guards.

Do I Have Bruxism?
Many of us suffer from bruxism in our sleep. It is often an unconscious response to stress and/or poorly aligned teeth. Therefore, the question ‘do I have bruxism?’ is entirely valid and you may not be able to answer it yourself. A visit to an orthodontist or dentist will provide an answer because a medical expert will be able to diagnose sufferers of bruxism even if you don’t remember grinding your teeth. Parents can identify bruxism in their children by listening out for the noise of grinding when they are sleeping. Meanwhile, you may notice your partner grinding their teeth at night. Look out for the following symptoms to discover if you may be suffering from bruxism:

  • Sore/painful jaw
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Facial muscle tenderness
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Clicking or grating sound when you open your mouth
  • Pain/discomfort when eating

What Happens If Bruxism Isn’t Treated?
Bruxism leads to the wearing away of your enamel as you grind your teeth against one another, damaging this important and protective surface. Enamel is your tooth’s first defence against corrosive food and drink which can cause decay. Weakening the enamel often leads to complex, lengthy, uncomfortable and expensive dental treatment. This can include root canals, crowns and extractions. Beyond your teeth, bruxism also damages your jaw joint and can develop into temporomandibular joint disorders. People suffering severely from bruxism and who are grinding their teeth for hours every night may also see a change to the shape of their face as the muscles develop and strengthen.

How Can Braces Help?
Not everyone who suffers from bruxism requires braces. However, people who suffer from a malocclusion (misaligned jaws), the straightening of teeth often sees a significant reduction in their grinding habit. Overlapping teeth, overbites and underbites can lead to more severe enamel erosion so moving these teeth into their correct alignment protects your teeth and jaw health overall. Of course, with your new straight smile, you’ll also see a confidence boost and perhaps some of those stress and anxiety factors which may also contributed to your bruxism can reduce too.

What Now?
In some cases, orthodontics cannot help but we can recommend alternative solutions including night guards to protect your teeth. If you think you or your children may suffer from bruxism or would like to find out more about how orthodontic treatment may improve your oral health, contact iSmile Orthodontics today.

How Braces Impact Your Lifestyle

Teeth are something we take for granted, for the most part. So you may not yet have thought about how your new braces are going to impact your lifestyle. While orthodontic treatment is going to deliver some excellent results, such as a perfect smile, healthy teeth and boosted confidence, you may have to alter your life a little as you travel this journey. We promise you that it will be worth it in the end but here are some ways in which your braces may affect your lifestyle and how best to minimise that impact.

Your orthodontist has probably already talked to you about some of the food which you should avoid while you’re wearing braces. However, there are very few types of food that we actively discourage you from eating at all. Most food can still be eaten just in a different form or with alternative preparation. For example, while biting into a whole apple can damage your braces, you can still enjoy this healthy snack if you cut the apple up first. Similarly, gnawing meat off a bone is awkward with braces but de-boned meat will be fine. Our orthodontists recommend our patients don’t eat the crusts of loaves but there is still plenty of soft bread to eat. Braces are less about cutting food out of your diet and more about adapting the way you eat to accommodate your new hardware.

We do strongly recommend you do not eat the following items in any form, however:

  • Toffee
  • Popcorn
  • Ice
  • Chewing gum
  • Hard candy (if you’re not disciplined enough to not crunch them nor brush your teeth afterwards)

Some physical sports occasionally result in a knock to the mouth. Painful regardless of whether you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, when you are fitted with braces, this can be particularly dangerous. If your cheek is pressed harshly against the metal of your braces, cuts and abrasions may occur. Injuries to the mouth, with or without braces, can also result in teeth being chipped or knocked out. However, there is a very simple solution which your orthodontist can help you with. Get fitted with an orthodontic mouthguard to protect your braces and your teeth. Many contact sports require all players to be fitted with a mouthguard as standard and an orthodontic mouthguard is one which perfectly accommodates your braces as well as your teeth.

We all know how important it is to brush twice a day. However, when you have braces, we advise brushing after every meal. Your braces create countless little crevices for stray food particles to lodge. If they are left for any prolonged time, they can cause staining to the enamel and tooth decay. We recommend putting together a small portable kit including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a handheld mirror which you carry around with you at all times. That way you are able to de-spinach your teeth whenever and wherever you require.Brushing once more per day is not too much of an inconvenience compared tonumerous whitening treatments on stained teeth or ongoing dental work, is it?

There Is Another Way
Many patients are apprehensive about living with braces for a year or two. While we promise that the end result will be worth it, there is another way which is an option for some patients; Invisalign. Suitable for some mild to moderate orthodontic problems, Invisalign makes all of these impacts on our patients’ lives a thing of the past. With Invisalign’s removable, invisible plate, our patients can simply remove their orthodontic appliance to enjoy their favourite food, play their sports and brush without concern.

Whether you are eligible for Invisalign treatment or you are going to undergo more traditional orthodontic options, we promise you that your braces won’t impact your lifestyle as much as you think. While it may take a few weeks to adapt once you have them fitted, sooner or later you will probably forget you’re even wearing them and will be enjoying life as you were before. The only difference being that you and your teeth are moving, day by day, towards your perfect smile.