Why Should I Visit the Dentist During Orthodontic Treatment?
If you’ve been fitted with braces, you may be wondering why you should bother to continue seeing your general dentist. After all, you’ll be spending quite some time in your orthodontist’s office, so why would you need to keep going to your regular dentist as well?
Visiting a dentist, like Dr. Jeff Kindseth, during orthodontic treatment is important to help maintain your oral health with regular check-ups and professional cleanings. When you have braces, it’s more difficult to brush your teeth and floss effectively, which can heighten the likelihood of cavities and gum disease.
A further benefit of continuing to visit the dentist is that it can shorten your orthodontic treatment. Tooth and gum issues can prolong your orthodontic therapy but preventive dentistry such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants can help to safeguard your teeth and gums.
Importance of Professional Cleanings During Orthodontic Treatment
Braces typically contain brackets, bands, and wires. These result in nooks and crannies that make oral hygiene more difficult by increasing the possibility of accumulations of plaque. Plaque is a colorless, sticky coating that forms along the gum line and on the teeth. It contains microbes that cause gum disease and tooth decay. If plaque hardens by becoming calcified, it becomes tartar (dental calculus), which attacks tooth enamel and eats below the gum line. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional.
A build-up of plaque and tartar can result in cavities by breaking down minerals in enamel – the protective outer surface of a tooth – and cause gingivitis (gum inflammation) that can develop into full-blown gum disease (periodontitis). Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.
Professional dental cleanings are key in reinforcing your routine of oral healthcare at home, particularly if you have braces. A professional cleaning from the skilled dental team at the office of Jeff Kindseth, DDS, will remove plaque and tartar, especially in areas that are difficult to reach when you have braces. Dental hygienists and dentists use special cleaning instruments designed for patients with braces. Cleanings twice a year are generally recommended but may be needed more often during orthodontic treatment.
Why You Still Need Regular Dental Exams During Orthodontic Treatment
Continuity of preventive dental care when wearing braces is imperative for your oral health. Apart from cleanings, visiting your general dentist during orthodontic treatment gives them the opportunity to monitor the condition of your teeth and gums. Regular dental exams play an important role in your oral health. They can detect problems early, enabling the most effective treatment, or even prevent potential issues from developing.
Some dental problems may be painless and symptom-free, particularly during the early stages. Your dentist will be able to pick up on issues like these. Dentists use a metal probe with an angled mirror to see between and behind your teeth and check for signs of cavities, including softened enamel and dentin.
Your routine dental exam will also check for problems with the gums, such as swelling, redness or sores. Your dentist will also measure the periodontal pockets – the spaces between the top of the gum line and where the soft tissue secures a tooth in place. Your dentist will feel your jawbones while you bite down, to make sure your bite is aligned and there’s no clicking from the joint. They will also look for signs of jaw clenching, such as worn grooves of the teeth.
Other Reasons to See Your Dentist During Orthodontic Treatment
Cleanings and regular check-ups will go a long way toward maintaining your oral health when wearing braces and give you the best chance of a successful outcome for your orthodontic treatment. However, there are other preventive measures that may be beneficial, including fluoride treatments and dental sealants.
Fluoride treatment helps to strengthen enamel and protect your teeth against cavities by replacing minerals that have been lost from attacks by bacteria-ridden plaque, and acids and sugars in the mouth. Unlike over-the-counter fluoridated mouth rinses and toothpastes, professional fluoride treatments by a dentist contain a potent concentration of the mineral, applied directly to the teeth as a foam, gel or varnish.
Your dentist may also prescribe fluoride applications for use at home that contain higher levels than over-the-counter products. Fluoride supplements in the form of tablets or liquid are also available on prescriptions from dentists. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that as well as strengthening teeth, fluoride treatments can even reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
Professional fluoride treatment is safe and painless, only takes a few minutes, and is carried out by dentists worldwide to prevent cavities. Only a small amount of the mineral is used and hardly any is swallowed because it quickly hardens. When combined with dental sealants, regular fluoride treatments have been shown to significantly reduce tooth decay.
While fluoride treatment is a powerful weapon in the war against cavities, it only works on the smooth surfaces of teeth. Dental sealants are most effective in protecting teeth crevices. Sealants are typically regarded as a treatment for children but can also help adults for the simple reason that everyone is vulnerable to tooth decay, regardless of age – and especially while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Sealants can be applied quickly, causing no pain during or after the procedure, and they are long-lasting.
Orthodontists and General Dentists Do Different Jobs
The work of orthodontic specialists and general dentists is typically very different. While your orthodontist will carefully monitor the progress of their treatment to straighten your teeth or fix bite problems, your primary dentist remains the best caretaker of your overall dental health – both during and after your orthodontic care. Regular cleanings, dental exams and other preventive measures by your regular dentist can help you get the most from your orthodontic treatment and keep your mouth healthy for life.
At the office of Jeff Kindseth, DDS, we take care of our patients, especially those undergoing orthodontic treatment. Contact us today to schedule an exam and ensure you’re getting the quality oral care you need to maintain good oral health for years to come.