Here’s a fun fact - babies can imitate smiles as early as the first 36 hours of life. Crazy, right?! Another amazing thing science has discovered is that babies don’t just smile out of reflex, they smile because they want to and because they’re responding to stimuli from their parents from the very beginning! (more here!)
What does this tell us? Smiles are something that is very natural and they matter! So, why then do we put off brushing and flossing?
When you get your braces, dental hygiene becomes even more important. You have to be sure that the teeth under the braces are clean otherwise you can develop cavities on the front, visible side of your teeth! Think of all that effort to get them straight and then you have to get the fronts fixed! Eeek!
Here’s the thing - braces won’t cause cavities, decalcification or gum disease, but not cleaning food particles out from under them could. The good news is that brushing and rinsing often will help eliminate the risk.
Our Famous Brush Talk
When you get your braces at OBC, you’ll sit through our quick but helpful “brush talk” - and you’ll also get an awesome electric toothbrush too. We think gadgets are cool and new technology always helps motivate us!
In our brush talk, we will demonstrate proper techniques. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; it’s important that you feel comfortable with your new task when you go home.
Don’t forget to keep up your regular dentist visits and cleanings. Your orthodontic visits do not replace those. It is still important to get your regular check-ups to make sure your teeth are clean and healthy.
A few quick tips:
Have questions? We’d be happy to answer them - just give us a call!
When is the right time to get braces on? It’s a question we hear a lot - not just from an age standpoint, but from a school year perspective. Parents and kids alike are often apprehensive about getting their braces on because they aren’t sure what they’re signing up for - and sometimes parents have negative memories of wearing braces themselves.
The good news is that technology has changed so much, even in the last 10 years - the braces you may have worn as a kid are definitely different from the smile systems we use at OBC.
Have you stopped by our office? At OBC, we try to put parents and kids at ease by not only keeping things low key and relaxed with our beach themed office but also by providing the information you need to make the right decision for you and your family. While we’re on the topic of the beach, you guessed it, SUMMER is a really great time for your kid (or YOU!) to get braces.
Why? To state the obvious, school is out in summer - that means most kids have more free time. We believe it’s the perfect time to begin orthodontia work because you won’t be stretched to fit both your schedule and your kid’s school schedule into our office hours. (Also, it’s easier, here in the Northern Virginia region where there’s usually lots of traffic, to get in and out even faster!)
Another reason to consider summer is that it will give your child time to adjust to the look and feel of their new braces before heading back to school in the fall. We all know that teenagers are self-conscious and that adjustment period of summer can help them ease into their new look. Having time to get used to the new smile, away from the classroom, is especially good for children who struggle with self-image. They will get used to talking, smiling, and eating with braces before they have to do those things at school.
A benefit of starting in summer is that when kids are at home more, they are less likely to forget to care for the brushing and extra care braces require because they have fewer distractions. It’s a great time to develop good oral hygiene habits that will keep their teeth in good health while the braces are on.
And last but not least, summer is great for ice cream cones and frozen treats - and that is just what feels great on new braces. While we know braces aren’t as painful as they used to be, we are firm believers that ice cream always helps!
If you are among the millions of Americans who suffer from headache pain, including migraines, OBC is excited to offer you some relief with Trudenta. This cutting edge technology uses ultrasound, electrocurrents and low-level laser, in addition to trigger point therapy to reduce and/or eliminate headache and migraine pain.
With the TruDenta system, we can target strained muscle forces in the head, neck, and jaw areas that are often at the root of head, face, jaw, and neck pain. Many people are surprised to learn that their bite can be directly related to the pain they’re experiencing with chronic headaches. Our patients have shared with us how extraordinary the difference is before and after treatment.
If your migraines or headaches have not responded to other treatments that you have tried, make an appointment with us. We will evaluate the musculoskeletal system of your head, neck, and jaw for signs of inflammation and tension that can lead to chronic headaches or migraines. As part of your exam, we will also check the delicate nerves and ligaments that run through your head and jaw for things like misaligned teeth and old injuries that might throw your system out of balance.
OBC is the place to go for therapeutic, state-of-the-art technology and best practice techniques. Committed to staying on the cusp of new technology, Trudenta is just one more way that we are looking to help our patients.
Does your child get the right amount of sleep, but always seems tired during the day? Do you battle to get your little one out of bed in the morning? Do you even sometimes hear problems with their breathing as they sleep? It could be that your son or daughter is one of the 10% of children that suffers from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
What is OSA?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA for short, is a condition that arises during sleep where the upper airway closes off (sometimes hundreds of times a night!) and breathing temporarily stops. This results in oxygen deficiency and highly sporadic sleep patterns as the sufferer repeatedly wakes and falls back to sleep in response to their OSA. Chronic tiredness, falling asleep during the day, and an inability to function well during the day are all key indicators of the problem. Furthermore, it is not an isolated or unusual problem in our society. In fact, OSA is now recognized as the most chronic disorder of all industrialized countries, even though it is estimated that 85% of all cases go undiagnosed
The Dangers of OSA
Having OSA means that you literally cannot get airflow to your lungs. Between the oxygen deficiency and sleeplessness that this causes, OSA can result in high blood pressure and obesity in adults, and increases the likelihood of even more serious, lethal issues, like diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks. Having OSA may cause you to gasp in your sleep, to wake up, or to suffer in silence.
Thankfully, while OSA is not necessarily as life-threatening for children, it can have profound effects on their physical and mental development and general well-being. The profound lack of meaningful sleep that OSA creates can have an impact on weight management and lead to childhood obesity, as well as impaired intellectual functioning and emotional development. As we all know, a rested child is a happy, healthy child.
The Orthodontics/OSA Connection
In the last few years, OSA has moved to the forefront of medical research and thought due to its link to many of these problematic health issues. Doctors and medical researchers know that medication and/or lifestyle changes may help with childhood obesity or lower the probability of a heart attack, but if the underlying cause of OSA is not addressed, these issues will generally continue to be a problem.
The good news is that orthodontics can play a huge role in relieving OSA and OSA-related symptoms!
Orthodontists are the only medical experts specialized in understanding the structure of the oral cavity and as such, are poised to be the frontline of defense against OSA. Your orthodontist shouldn’t just be interested in creating a beautiful smile, and neither should you! Your orthodontist should take a vested interest in the health of the entire person, and how your smile, teeth, jaw, and facial structure might contribute to your overall health, especially in regards to disorders of OSA. Orthodontists have the potential to work hand in hand with sleep specialists to address the problem, but can also independently provide orthodontic treatments that will work to immediately rid you or your child of OSA symptoms.
The OBC Advantage
Here at OBC we take our patients’ overall health very seriously. Because of this, we don’t just simply correct bites or straighten teeth. We take the time to think about the structural changes to a child’s jaw or facial structure that specific orthodontics may create before any work is begun in order to stop OSA sometimes before it can even begin. We also regularly monitor our patients’ progress with an eye for how their orthodontic work may be impacting the airway, and adjust their treatment accordingly.
When we see new patients that had orthodontic work done elsewhere or long ago, we take the time to assess their current structural state and address any issues that may contribute to OSA.
If you or your child exhibits any of the signs of OSA, please come in and let us take a look. Call our office at 703-263-0575.
It’s obvious that your airway is essential for you to live. An open, non-constricted airway allows air to enter into your body, which allows oxygen to be absorbed by your blood through the lungs, and which in turn allows you to live a healthful life. Everyone is aware of this… but did you know that your orthodontics can impact your airway?
How Orthodontics Impacts Airway
When you think about orthodontics and their effects on your airway, the gut reaction may be to panic as you imagine a piece of your braces falling off and down into your throat. You can rest assured -- this doesn’t happen! And that’s not what we are talking about. Instead, we are talking about how restructuring your teeth and jaw, through the use of orthodontics, can either constrict or actually help open up your airway.
To understand how this might happen, you need to first think about the pathway your air takes as you breathe: when you inhale, the air goes in through your nose or mouth, passes over the soft palate and tongue, and then goes down into the lungs. (That’s the simplified version, but you get the idea!)
Anything that occurs along the way in this process can restrict your air. For example, when your tongue is inadvertently moved down and/or back, possibly when you are in a deep sleep in the middle of the night, and it relaxes to the point where it falls, it makes the airway opening smaller. This limits your air intake and could cause you to have a sleepless night.
For us here at OBC, it’s important to understand these concepts because a patient’s facial structure, which is often addressed by orthodontics, can affect the airway. In fact, an open facial structure is usually a good indicator of an open airway.
Unfortunately, some orthodontic work, when not planned properly, can lead to airway constriction. In some cases, tooth extractions or retractions due to overbites and protruding teeth can actually lead to the teeth and jaws falling back from their original position. This makes the tongue and soft palate fall back too, which narrows an otherwise normal and healthy airway.
A patient probably won’t notice this constriction during waking hours, but when they lie down to go to sleep, that narrow airway becomes even smaller, and could lead to serious health issues, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition arises when the airway becomes completely cut off, interrupting a person’s sleep and creating a slew of problems.
In the treatment of our patients, it’s important for us to execute modern orthodontics that leave plenty of room in the mouth for the tongue and jaw to rest without obstructing the airway.
This means opting for orthodontics that either keep the jaw in place or expand and develop it forward, instead of allowing the teeth and jaw to fall back. For our patients who have had orthodontic work done somewhere else, or long ago, it means first checking to see what their facial structure looks like, monitoring them for signs of OSA or other problems, and working to fix any airway issues that may arise.
At OBC we want your smile to make a splash, but we also care about your overall health too! Schedule a consult with us so we can evaluate your or your child’s airway. We look forward to giving great service, smiles, and health education to our patients.
If you have crooked teeth, you might want to hide your smile with your hand. But sometimes, a joke is too funny and you want to laugh without apprehension. It’s true that many people don’t seek out orthodontic solutions to fix their crooked teeth because they don’t want to spend time or money on adjusting something “just to make themselves look better.” They may feel selfish, or consider straight teeth to be a luxury. But the reality is that adjusting a smile isn’t just about how you look… it’s also about your overall health.
Teeth that are crooked offer far more problems than just the anxiety caused by what others might think. When you leave crooked teeth unattended to, you are setting yourself up for a host of more painful problems in the future.
Crooked Teeth Mean More Cavities
When your teeth are crooked and improperly aligned, you run the risk of getting more food caught in between the teeth. It is harder to clean crooked teeth, because you can’t always fit the brush in the places that it needs to be. When you can’t clean your teeth properly, you run a greater risk of plaque build-up, not to mention proliferation of the bacteria that can grow in your mouth. This buildup leads to cavities, and a greater risk of developing gum disease. By fixing crooked teeth, you allow your teeth the best possible chance for a healthy, clean, plaque-free smile.
Crooked Teeth Go Through More Wear and Tear
When your teeth don’t line up properly, they end up rubbing against each other in odd places. This brings unnecessary wear and tear upon your teeth. You are more susceptible to chips on your teeth, or even a flattening of a tooth. All of this produces potential problems like cavities, tooth disease, and pain that has to be corrected potentially with surgery.
Crooked Teeth are Painful
Chances are that if you have crooked teeth, your teeth aren’t touching correctly when you chew. This places more pressure on the joints in your jaw (especially the temporomandibular joint aka TMJ), which causes tightness, pain, and “popping” noises, especially when chewing. You might even encounter your jaw “locking up” where you can no longer open it the same amount. Additionally, jaw pain is often linked to headaches, or strain in your face and neck. Have you heard about TruDenta?
Crooked Teeth Can Cause Speech Problems
While crooked teeth can cause dental health issues, did you know that crooked teeth can also result in speech impediments? Things like an overbite or underbite can significantly impact your speech clarity. Your teeth are part of your articulators, which means they help you produce vocal sounds. There are some words that are difficult to pronounce with an overbite, underbite, or even gaps in your teeth, and entire sounds like “sh” and “ch” will sound incorrect. Additionally, your crooked teeth might lead to a lisp or even a slight “whistle sound” that happens when you speak.
Getting Treatment is Self-Care, Not Selfish
Correcting crooked teeth is essential to your health and longevity of your smile. With the variety of orthodontic treatments we offer, Dr. Crutchfield will help you choose the best one to fit your lifestyle while helping you make a splash with your new, improved smile.
Most of us grew up either having braces or with friends and siblings who went through having them, and we all have plenty of feelings about the experience: there’s the horror of being “stuck” with braces for years at a time with no end in sight, the pain associated with having to tighten them or wear uncomfortable rubber bands, or the annoyance of monthly office visits where you constantly sit for disgusting updated plaster casts, only to get yet another adjustment.
Fortunately for the kids (and adults!) of today, when it comes to orthodontics, there’s a lot more to smile about.
Innovations in orthodontics like suresmile braces and invisible aligners take away both guesswork for the dentist and uncomfortability for the patient. Using technologies like suresmile and invisible aligners makes for a more customized approach to orthodontic care.
We are confident that suresmile methods are the wave of the future. Forget plastic molds and plaster casts; suresmile uses 3-D images of the teeth to assess the current trouble spots, as well as help the doctor map out a treatment plan for the future smile of the patient. The doctor then creates wires using the imaging from the computer, and a robot physically makes these wires to ensure microscopic precision.
For those wanting the super high-tech experience of suresmile with the sleeker look of no wires, you can also choose invisible aligners, which are clear trays that gently shift your teeth.
These trays are created by your dentist utilizing a 3-D image of your teeth, along with digital X-rays and pictures. You wear each set of invisible aligners for 2 weeks before trading them out for new ones.
The benefits of both suresmile braces and invisible aligners far outweigh traditional and dated methods of the past. Both suresmile and invisible aligners use the newest technologies to attain terrific results quicker and with better accuracy, making for a smoother orthodontics journey for both patient and doctor.
Our faces contain thousands of muscles and nerves that help us translate our feelings to facial expressions, our thoughts to spoken words, and external stimuli to internal reactions. We smile at a familiar face, say hello, and squint as we continue to talk in the bright sun.
These muscles and nerves communicate our senses largely without our knowledge until one of those senses is pain—and then they are all we think about. Headache and migraine sufferers know all too well what happens when muscles and nerves in the head and neck become irritated. One of the ways to manage recurring headaches and migraines is to manage what triggers them; illness, stress, diet, alcohol, and dehydration are common causes of headaches. And, of course, toothaches.
It turns out toothaches and headaches have something in common that goes beyond the fact they are both painful; they are both detected by the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. Because of this connection, most toothaches--and the behavior surrounding toothaches, like teeth grinding and jaw clenching--can be the direct causes of headaches and triggers for migraines.
Of course, migraines are a class of headache all to themselves. Characterized by their recurrent, throbbing pain on one side of the head, migraines are often accompanied by nausea, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells.
Your dentist and orthodontist can work with you to alleviate aggravating symptoms, like alignment and bite issues, to provide you ease and relief.
“Even when tooth pain doesn’t trigger a migraine, it certainly doesn’t make a throbbing headache feel better when the two occur at the same time,” says Dr. Crutchfield. “By improving oral health and decreasing irritation, we can often reduce pain triggers and give patients more control over their headaches.”
Are you ready to feel better? Request an appointment here.
Metal brackets. Wires. Bands. Braces seem to look and feel a lot like they did 10, 20, and even 30 years ago. With all the technology being introduced to orthodontia lately, it begs the question, “How has technology changed the way we move teeth?”
“Tremendously,” said Dr. Crutchfield. “The difference between how orthodontia was done even ten years ago and how we manage it now is quite drastic. We may use the same basic components, but how we use them, where we use them, and when we use them has changed quite a bit.”
He’s referring to the Damon System, which uses a passive system that facilitates faster tooth movement without the need for extraction or surgery. “Technology allows us to create a unique strategy for each patient,” he adds. “It also removes the guesswork. We can clearly see and play out tooth movement and develop a plan for the optimal scenario--a natural smile without unnecessary pain, time, or expense.”
To this end, technology ends up being the silent partner in the orthodontist office. Orthodontists like Dr. Crutchfield stay at the forefront of technology because it maximizes patient comfort; from eliminating the need for messy plaster molds to decreasing the time patients spend in brackets, technology improves patient experience, outcomes, and overall satisfaction.
“Technology may never make getting braces ‘fun,’” says Dr. Crutchfield. “But it certainly has made getting them more comfortable. Patients these days have fewer appointments, and the ones they have are short and quick. Results come faster and with reduced pain. And that’s still plenty to smile about. Especially at the OBC, our staff does everything we can to make sure you leave smiling.”
When you’re ready for technology to play a role in your smile, we’re here to take care of you. Schedule your free assessment today.
How Orthodontia Helps Free Obstructed Airways
In early growth and development, there is a remarkable cycle of events that occur along the airway
structures through the course of proper breathing. Under normal conditions, the tongue stays high and
naturally coaxes the upper palate to expand over time. When the upper jaw expands, the nasal passages
grow along with it, promoting efficient nose breathing and all the long-term benefits that go along with it: better sleep, fewer illnesses, better cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and better school and
There are some instances, however, when this proper development doesn’t take place, resulting in
obstructed airways that never perform to their full potential. When young kids breathe primarily through
their mouth, this is an indication the cycle of development has been disrupted. Mouth breathing requires a low tongue position to make the most of the air coming in. A low tongue position prevents the tongue from pressing against and expanding the roof of the mouth, resulting in a narrowed nasal cavity and obstructed breathing. It can also create a narrowed tongue, which further compounds the problem.
The symptoms of obstructed airways present differently in children and adults and can include:
Identifying and correcting these important airway structures is imperative to helping kids and adults
achieve their full health and developmental potential. Pronounced mouth breathing is the most inefficient way to deliver oxygen to the body and the brain and has been known to cause or worsen conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma.
Young patients who have already had their tonsils and adenoids removed with little relief could benefit
from orthodontic treatments that can make the most of the increased space.Studies have shown that
patients with airway obstruction have benefitted from oral appliances that guide the development of their upper and lower jaws. Palate expanders, for instance, can have a dramatic effect on nasal and sinus
passages, which expand along with the palate. As the passages grow to their full potential, patients find
that breathing through their noses not only becomes easier but also second nature. And that is a very
strong step toward proper brain and body health.
Some dentists will claim there is a difference between “traditional orthodontia” and "functional orthodontia.” At Orthodontics by Crutchfield, we know the relationship between form and function is much more closely related. Our job as your orthodontic team is to give you the most authentic smile on the best possible foundation, giving you the look you want and the comfortable bite, speech clarity, airway improvement, oral health, and overall wellness you deserve. Function will always come first and form will follow, as will the results that last a lifetime.
Schedule your free airway and orthodontic consultation now.
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