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Bracketology

October 26th, 2022

Analyzing strong points, looking for potential problems, making comparisons—it’s bracketology time! Nope, not basketball (although we hear they have something similar), but a brief analysis of your orthodontic options when it comes to choosing a winning bracket.

If you’re getting braces, you’re probably already familiar with how they work—brackets are bonded to the teeth to hold an archwire, which provides gentle, controlled pressure to move the teeth into alignment. But within that basic bracket-and-wire system, there are several different bracket designs available to you at our Highlands Ranch orthodontic office. Let’s see what the scouting report has turned up on our final four, pointing out their distinct advantages as well as some potential mismatches.

Traditional metal brackets

Advantages:

  • Traditional braces with metal brackets are effective for more than just straightening teeth. They can be used to correct rotated teeth, differences in tooth height, and bite problems. For severe bite and alignment problems, traditional braces are most often the right choice.
  • Metal construction makes these brackets able to handle the controlled pressure needed to treat serious malocclusions.
  • Cost-effective. These are usually the least expensive option.

Potential Disadvantage:

Clear/Ceramic Brackets

Advantages:

  • Lack of visibility! Whether you go for clear brackets or brackets tinted to match your enamel, you’ll be keeping a low-profile with this choice.
  • Stronger and more stain-resistant than ever before, using the latest in ceramic, porcelain, or plastic materials.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Not as durable. Unlike metal, these clear brackets can crack or break. If you play a contact sport, these might not be for you.
  • Some ceramic brackets are larger than other choices, so might be recommended only for the top teeth.
  • Clear or tinted brackets can be more expensive.

Self-Ligating Brackets

Advantages:

  • These brackets use a clip or trapdoor mechanism to hold your archwire without the need of bands. Ceramic options are available if you want an even more discreet appearance.
  • Can be more comfortable with less friction between wire and bracket.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Self-ligating braces are generally more expensive.

Lingual Braces

Advantages:

  • Lingual braces use metal brackets, but they attach to the back of each tooth for almost invisible bite correction.
  • Custom-made. Lingual brackets can be designed and fabricated to fit your individual teeth perfectly.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Trickier to clean because of their placement behind teeth.
  • Might not be suitable for a deep bite if there’s not enough clearance between top and bottom teeth.
  • Initial discomfort caused by the tongue’s contact with the braces when you speak and eat.
  • Custom-made brackets are more expensive.

So that’s a brief rundown of your bracket choices. But, unlike sports bracketology, there are no losers here! Dr. Richard Elliott can give you the pros and cons of each bracket design, so you can make an informed decision based on the kind of braces which will work best for you. With coaching like that, no matter which bracket option you choose, the final result is the same—a winning smile!

Overbite or Overjet?

October 19th, 2022

The words “overbite” and “overjet” certainly sound similar. Both conditions concern your front teeth. Both conditions fall under the same category of bite problems—Class II malocclusions, if you want to be technical. So it’s not surprising that they’re often used interchangeably. But while there are similarities, overbite and overjet are also distinctly different.

  • Overbite/Overjet Geometry

In a healthy bite, the front top teeth project slightly beyond, and slightly overlap, the bottom teeth. The key word here is “slightly.” With a Class II malocclusion, the upper front teeth project further beyond the lower teeth than they should.

Of course, teeth and bites are as individual as we are, so there are variations in just how and just how much the overlap occurs. In diagnosing an overbite vs. an overjet, the difference comes down to a matter of vertical vs. horizontal.

An overbite, or deep bite, occurs when the top teeth vertically overlap the bottom teeth more than they should for a healthy bite. Generally, when a person’s top teeth cover more than a quarter of the bottom teeth when biting down, or more than two to three millimeters, that person is said to have an overbite.

An overjet, commonly known as protruding or buck teeth, is the result of a horizontal overlap that is broader than normal. This causes the top teeth to project outward toward the lips more than they do in a typical bite. An overjet is usually diagnosed when the horizontal distance between the top and bottom teeth exceeds two to three millimeters.

  • Overbite/Overjet Causes

The causes for both an overbite and an overjet might be dental (caused by tooth alignment), or skeletal (caused by bone development), or a combination of both. These bite problems can run in families. They are also affected by the size and position of the jaws and the shape and position of the teeth.

Early oral habits, such as prolonged and vigorous thumb-sucking or pacifier use, can also contribute to the development of a Class II malocclusion, particularly an overjet. Consistent pressure from thump or pacifier pushes the teeth outward as they erupt, which encourages them to protrude. These oral habits can affect the shape of the palate and jaw, too.

  • Overbite/Overjet Treatments

There are many types of treatment available to correct teeth and bite misalignments. Dr. Richard Elliott will tailor your treatment to your specific malocclusion for the best orthodontic outcome.

If you have a mild malocclusion, and minor dental issues are the main cause of that malocclusion, either braces or clear aligners can be effective for an overjet or an overbite. Elastics (rubber bands) are often used as part of this treatment.

If the malocclusion is due to bite problems caused by uneven upper and lower jaw development, devices called functional appliances can be used with braces to help guide the growth of the jawbones while young patients’ bones are still forming. These include appliances that work inside the mouth to help the upper and lower jaws grow proportionally, and external appliances such as headgear.

In some cases, where the malocclusion is skeletal in nature as well as dental, surgical treatment might be necessary to reshape the jawbone itself. Orthodontic treatment is usually needed as well both before and after surgery.

  • Overbite/Overjet Consequences

Over time, a deep overbite can cause damaged gum tissue, worn enamel, and fractured teeth. When teeth protrude because of an overjet, they can lead to self-consciousness and are more at risk for injury. Both malocclusions share dental and medical consequences, including concerns about facial and jaw appearance, problems speaking or chewing, headaches, and face and jaw pain.

Class II malocclusions aren’t all the same, and orthodontic patients aren’t all the same either. You may have a minor malocclusion or a significant one. You may have an overbite, or an overjet, or a combination of different bite and alignment concerns. Your malocclusion may not bother you at all, or it may cause pain, discomfort, or self-consciousness.

That’s why every overbite or overjet should be evaluated by an orthodontist. When you visit our Highlands Ranch orthodontic office, Dr. Richard Elliott will be able to diagnose the exact nature of your malocclusion, the reason for it, and your best individualized treatment plan. An overbite and an overjet are different malocclusions, but you and your orthodontist want the same outcome for each: a healthy, attractive, and confident smile!

Which type of mouthwash is best?

October 12th, 2022

Taking care of your oral health involves a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing to prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections. Though you may have asked us which toothbrush to use, few patients at Elliott Orthodontics ask about mouthwash.

However, different mouthwashes you might choose will have varying effects on your oral health. So which type is best for you?

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce the majority of bacteria on and near the gum line. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can help decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. If possible, look for a mouthwash with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients.

Fluoride

Fluoride is beneficial for oral health and can help prevent tooth decay. If you drink a lot of bottled water without fluoride, we may recommend that you purchase a rinse with fluoride in it.

Bad Breath

Although mouthwash is designed to prevent bacterial build-up within the mouth, many people use it to combat bad breath. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, and some are specifically designed to do so.

However, if bad breath is a chronic problem that requires daily treatment with a mouth rinse, contact Elliott Orthodontics to discuss your symptoms.

American Dental Association Approval

The ADA reviews mouth rinses for safety and effectiveness. A mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Approval will meet strict criteria, and will have scientific evidence or clinical studies that support the claims of the manufacturer. If possible, select a mouthwash that bears the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure you are using a quality rinse.

Considerations

If you are unsure as to which mouthwash is right for you, contact our Highlands Ranch office or ask Dr. Richard Elliott during your next visit. Also, be sure to keep mouthwash out of the reach of children, as it contains alcohol and other substances that could be harmful to them. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and discontinue use if you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth.

Orthodontics and Oral Piercings

October 5th, 2022

Traditional braces and oral piercings—does the inevitable meeting of metals pose any risks? Let’s look at some of the potential problems with oral piercings, and you and Dr. Richard Elliott can decide if you should take a break from jewelry while you’re in treatment.

  • Tooth Damage

Enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, but when up against constant contact with metal? It’s not a fair fight.

Tongue piercings, especially, cause problems for your teeth. Whenever you speak or eat—even while you’re sleeping!—your tongue is making contact with your teeth. This continual tapping of metal on enamel can chip and crack teeth and damage fillings. A serious fracture could mean a root canal.

You’re getting braces to create a more attractive, healthy smile, so keeping your teeth intact is a priority.

  • Gum Problems

Your gums are affected by orthodontic treatment. As the teeth move, the gums, ligaments, and bone around them adapt and even reshape over time. You might notice when you first get your braces, or when you go in for an adjustment, that you have a few days of swollen, sensitive gums afterward. You might also find that you are at greater risk of gingivitis, because it can be harder to keep plaque away from your gumline until you perfect your brushing and flossing skills.

Oral piercings bring their own gingival dangers. Jewelry in the tongue or lip can rub against gum tissue, especially around your lower front teeth. As the gum tissue continues to be irritated and inflamed, it pulls away from the teeth. This process is called gum recession.

Receding gums expose the tops of your roots to cavity-causing bacteria. They make you more sensitive to hot or cold foods. Pockets between gums and teeth can harbor infections that threaten the tooth itself.

Caring for your gums during braces is important for your dental health. Since people with oral piercings have a much higher rate of gum recession that those without, why add one more risk factor to your oral health?

  • Metal vs Metal

Lip and tongue piercings can make contact with traditional brackets and wires, especially if you have a habit of playing with them. And let’s not forget lingual braces! Lingual braces are almost invisible because their brackets and wires are custom fitted to the back of your teeth. Whenever you speak or eat, you’ll be taking the chance that a tongue piercing will damage these custom-made appliances.

Dr. Richard Elliott can tell you if your piercings are in any danger of interfering with your braces, but even if you’re planning on aligners, there are additional reasons to consider retiring your oral jewelry. Dental associations and medical associations discourage oral piercings because they can damage teeth and gums. And there’s more. Oral piercings can lead to swelling, bleeding, allergic reactions, infection, and nerve damage.

The reason you’re considering braces is because you want a healthy, attractive smile. Don’t let a tiny piece of jewelry make your life and your treatment more difficult! Do some research and talk to our Highlands Ranch team about your oral piercings, and come up with a solution that’s best for your health and best for your smile.

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