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Posts for: June, 2017

By W. Timothy Brooks DMD, PC
June 16, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

In her decades-long career, renowned actress Kathy Bates has won Golden Globes, Emmys, and many other honors. Bates began acting in her twenties, but didn't achieve national recognition until she won the best actress Oscar for Misery — when she was 42 years old! “I was told early on that because of my physique and my look, I'd probably blossom more in my middle age,” she recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “[That] has certainly been true.” So if there's one lesson we can take from her success, it might be that persistence pays off.

When it comes to her smile, Kathy also recognizes the value of persistence. Now 67, the veteran actress had orthodontic treatment in her 50's to straighten her teeth. Yet she is still conscientious about wearing her retainer. “I wear a retainer every night,” she said. “I got lazy about it once, and then it was very difficult to put the retainer back in. So I was aware that the teeth really do move.”

Indeed they do. In fact, the ability to move teeth is what makes orthodontic treatment work. By applying consistent and gentle forces, the teeth can be shifted into better positions in the smile. That's called the active stage of orthodontic treatment. Once that stage is over, another begins: the retention stage. The purpose of retention is to keep that straightened smile looking as good as it did when the braces came off. And that's where the retainer comes in.

There are several different kinds of retainers, but all have the same purpose: To hold the teeth in their new positions and keep them from shifting back to where they were. We sometimes say teeth have a “memory” — not literally, but in the sense that if left alone, teeth tend to migrate back to their former locations. And if you've worn orthodontic appliances, like braces or aligners, that means right back where you started before treatment.

By holding the teeth in place, retainers help stabilize them in their new positions. They allow new bone and ligaments to re-form and mature around them, and give the gums time to remodel themselves. This process can take months to years to be complete. But you may not need to wear a retainer all the time: Often, removable retainers are worn 24 hours a day at first; later they are worn only at night. We will let you know what's best in your individual situation.

So take a tip from Kathy Bates, star of the hit TV series American Horror Story, and wear your retainer as instructed. That's the best way to keep your straight new smile from changing back to the way it was — and to keep a bad dream from coming true.

If you would like more information about orthodontic retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Why Orthodontic Retainers?” and “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.” The interview with Kathy Bates appears in the latest issue of Dear Doctor.

By W. Timothy Brooks DMD, PC
June 09, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: family dentistry  

How your dentist in Huntsville can help your familyfamily dentistry

Dental needs change as we get older. People are more prone to decay when they are younger, and more prone to tooth loss as they get older. Dr. W. Timothy Brooks in Huntsville, AL, is a family dentist who knows all about dental issues which are common to different age groups. He can help you and your entire family have a healthy smile for life.

Did you know children are never too young to experience tooth decay? That’s right, the minute the first tooth erupts, a child can get tooth decay. If you have small children, you should bring them in for a first visit after the first tooth erupts, and at least before your child is a year old.

As children get older, tooth decay is the main dental issue they will face. It’s important to make sure your child is taking fluoride supplements if you live in a non-fluoridated area. Sealants are another very effective and inexpensive weapon against tooth decay. Sealants are a protective resin placed over the deep grooves on your child’s teeth.

As children become teenagers they may need orthodontic treatment to restore full biting function and provide straight, beautiful smiles. The average age for orthodontic treatment is best between the ages of 18 and 25.

Adults, on the other hand, may encounter many different dental issues as we, including:

  • Tooth decay, which can be remedied by fillings or crowns; for deep dental decay, a root canal may also be necessary.
  • Tooth loss, which can be remedied by dental implants, dental bridges, partials, or dentures.
  • Periodontal disease, which can be treated by supportive periodontal therapy; supportive periodontal therapy is frequent deep cleanings to restore a healthy soft tissue-to-tooth attachment.

You and members of your family may also desire cosmetic dental services to make your smile more aesthetically beautiful. Cosmetic dental services are performed on otherwise healthy teeth and can include procedures like tooth-colored fillings, dental bonding, porcelain veneers and other treatments.

These are just a few dental issues common to different age groups. No matter what the dental issue is, your dentist in Huntsville can help. For more information about dental care and to schedule an appointment call Dr. W. Timothy Brooks in Huntsville, AL. Find out more by calling today!

By W. Timothy Brooks DMD, PC
June 01, 2017
Category: Oral Health

At your child's latest dental visit, you found out one of their primary (“baby”) teeth has become decayed and in danger of loss. Of course, you may think, it's only a primary tooth — it's going to come out sooner or later.

But a primary tooth lost “sooner” rather than “later” can create long-term negative consequences for your child's dental health. For the sake of the future permanent tooth, the best treatment strategy could be to put forth the effort and expense to save it.

Besides its role in eating and chewing, a primary tooth's most important function is as a “trailblazer” for the permanent tooth developing below it. A primary tooth doesn't normally loosen and let go until the new permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Until then they hold the new tooth's space in the jaw.

But if the primary tooth is lost prematurely, nearby teeth can drift into and crowd the space so that the permanent tooth comes in out of position. This can result in a malocclusion, or poor bite.

Depending on the state of your child's jaw development, it may be advisable to attempt saving the tooth through a filling or, in the case of deep decay, a modified root canal treatment. If the tooth can't be saved, then placing an orthodontic appliance known as a space maintainer might be necessary. Cemented to a tooth next to the empty space, this appliance has a looped band of metal that butts against the tooth on the other side of the gap, and prevents both teeth from drifting into the space.

Intervening for a decayed primary tooth can seem a waste of time and money since it has a limited lifespan to begin with. But for the health of its companion permanent tooth, as well as possibly avoiding orthodontic treatment, it could be well worth it for your child's long-term dental health.

If you would like more information on dental care for your child, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”

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W. Timothy Brooks DMD, PC

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W. Timothy Brooks DMD, PC
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