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Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

January 18th, 2017

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Jones and our team at Clark Jones, DDS, MSD hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

What causes crooked teeth?

January 11th, 2017

Teeth erupt crookedly for a number of reasons that range from genetics to mouth deformities and serious oral diseases. When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crookedness or misplacement of teeth), the culprit is usually genetic in nature. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to accommodate a full set of teeth and misaligned jaws that did not form properly in the womb.

Can crooked teeth be prevented?

In most cases, underbites, overbites, and crooked teeth are genetically derived and can’t be avoided. Orthodontic treatment with braces will be necessary to correct the condition once the child is old enough to wear them. However, certain early childhood behaviors may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth that can be avoided. These include:

  • Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting
  • Losing baby teeth to decay before permanent teeth have naturally pushed them out of their sockets
  • Allowing pacifier use to continue after front teeth have erupted

Permanent teeth underneath baby teeth are directly affected by the health of baby teeth. If baby teeth are prematurely lost due to decay or trauma, permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward. Baby teeth are like anchors for permanent teeth that help guide them as they erupt through the gums.

In addition, excellent care of baby teeth is vital to having healthy permanent teeth free of discoloration or decay. Harmful oral bacteria can spread into the gums and reach permanent teeth still buried in the gums. Once attached to a tooth’s enamel, bacteria will begin eroding the tooth even before it has a chance to take its first bite!

When to Start Orthodontic Treatment for Crooked Teeth

Dr. Jones and our staff suggest that parents bring your child to Clark Jones, DDS, MSD around age seven to rule out potential issues with permanent teeth eruption. If problems are discovered, it is not unusual to begin orthodontic treatment at that age. In fact, specific conditions such as crowding and gaps between teeth are easier to correct at an early age.

Early treatment also benefits from the growth process of the jaw, which helps move teeth to normal positions.

3D Imaging and Your Oral Health

January 4th, 2017

3D imaging, also known as CBCT (Cone Beam Computerized Tomography), can be an invaluable tool for Dr. Jones to help you to maintain or restore your oral health. Advances in the industry have allowed for more precise and detailed imaging than ever before.

CBCT machines work by rotating around a patient to capture both 3D and 2D images of the head and jaw all at the same time. This is then digitally reconstructed on the computer to allow for quicker and more accurate diagnosis. There are several benefits of 3D imaging over traditional imaging like X-rays and CT scans, for both doctor and patient.

The benefits of 3D imaging for the patient:

  • Radiation exposure is reduced as compared to traditional X-rays or CT scans. A 3D scan will expose patients to less radiation than a full set of oral X-rays and up to 95% less radiation than a CT scan.
  • 3D imaging allows the patient to view the results of the scan alongside the doctor, right on the computer. This way the patient can better understand what's going on if there is an issue.
  • The procedure is extremely quick and easy to perform. It usually only takes about ten to twenty seconds for the entire 3D image to be taken.
  • Cost savings are huge for patients when compared to traditional CT scans performed at a hospital.

The benefits of 3D imaging for the doctor:

  • One of the biggest benefits for doctors is the amount of information gained from one scan. Doctors receive much more in-depth and actionable information as compared to 2D X-ray imaging alone. This makes for better treatment planning and diagnosis.
  • The images are digital so they can be viewed on any computer or tablet instead of having just one physical printed image.
  • Clearer images are captured with this technology, which allows the doctor to more accurately diagnose any disorder such as impacted teeth, pathologies which are difficult to see, TMJ, or any other issue relating to the bone and structures of the tooth below the gum line.
  • 3D imaging allows for better communication between doctor and patient. The doctor can more easily show the patient what's going on and explain the course of treatment they suggest.

When called for, 3D imaging can be a very helpful diagnostic tool for both doctor and patient alike. This is why our Phoenix, AZ office is equipped with state-of-the-art imaging technologies so we can provide our patients with the most accurate and comfortable experience possible.

Dangers of DIY Orthodontics on the Internet

December 28th, 2016

All over the Internet you'll find videos and articles showing how you can close the gap between teeth or space them out. There is a plethora of DIY orthodontic techniques out there — you can even mail order your own impressions to get clear aligners, without even seeing a dentist or orthodontist. Following the instructions laid out in these videos and articles (by people who have zero training in orthodontics) is about the worst decision you can make for your overall oral health.

Performing DIY or at-home orthodontia can lead to or cause:

  • Loss of teeth
  • Infection
  • Cavities or infections that are missed or undiagnosed
  • Gum damage

Dr. Christina Carter, president of the Northeastern Society of Orthodontists, says that DIY orthodontics can have terrible consequences. She spoke to TODAY about closing gaps between teeth using rubber bands or elastics:

"The teeth are connected to the gums and the blood supply and there is a risk of infection, of tearing the gums which might not heal properly, and a risk of damaging the attachment between the tooth and gums so the tooth no longer gets the support it needs." She also noted, "A simple rubber band can actually slide up the tooth and cut all the attachments to it and you can actually lose a tooth."

One of the worst parts about DIY orthodontics is that you never consult with a trained orthodontist, so you're really operating on a dangerous lack of information. It's best not to risk damage to your teeth or infection. Let Dr. Jones know what you want to accomplish with your teeth and we will help you find the safest and most cost-effective way to achieve it.

Dr. Jones want you to be informed and practical about your oral health. Should you have any questions about orthodontic treatment options, please do not hesitate to give us a call at our convenient Phoenix, AZ office.

"Dr. Jones is our family's orthodontist and we could not be happier with his service, honesty and dedication to his profession." ~ Denise
"The staff there is always helpful and the appointments are quick and comfortable." ~ Wendy T.
"The smiles we get to see everyday now make us grateful and assure us that we chose the right orthodontist for the job. Thanks to you and your staff." ~ Mike & Jodi Gallovich
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