What Invisalign is Like: My Experience with Clear Alignment Therapy

Our treatment coordinator Bella shares her experience with Invisalign to help you better understand what the whole process is like.

Bella with her Invisalign aligner tray

Bella with her Invisalign aligner tray

“If this was the end result, I’d be happy,” Bella says of the progress her teeth have made after only two months of using Invisalign. Bella started her treatment in October, hoping to straighten some teeth that had moved since the last time she did alignment therapy.

“This isn’t my first time using Invisalign,” Bella admitted. The first time, she didn’t use the retainer after finishing treatment, and her teeth shifted.

Our teeth are always shifting due to a variety of different forces, such as swallowing, grinding, and even lip biting. Alignment therapies like braces or Invisalign shift our teeth into a straight position by applying consistent pressure on them over the time.

How does Invisalign work?

Day 1 with Dr. Koh and Dental Assistant Maria

Day 1 with Dr. Koh and Dental Assistant Maria

Invisalign uses clear trays similar to teeth-whitening trays that are made out of a thermoplastic material. When you start treatment, you get your first set of trays, each one slightly different, that you change every 1-2 weeks, depending on the doctor’s recommendation. With each tray, your teeth get closer and closer to the final desired positioning. 

“I didn’t feel any pain with the trays,” explained Bella. “My teeth would be a bit sore at first when I would take them off in the morning to have breakfast, but that’s just the first day or so of using a new tray.”

New Technology Makes It Fast and Easy

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Dr. Koh uses a curing light to bond the buttons

Bella also noticed that technology had improved since the last time she used the Invisalign. “The iTero scan that they use to take the mold is so much easier and faster than the old way with the molds,” she noted.

The iTero Intraoral Digital Scanner takes a high quality 3D image of your mouth that serves as the impression to make the trays. The impression is created in minutes, and then sent to Invisalign where they create each individual aligner tray and any buttons that may need to be used to move the teeth. Buttons are tiny composite resin knobs that are placed on some teeth to help the aligner trays do their job. 

“The buttons are weird at first, and it feels like you have something stuck in your tooth, but now I don’t notice them.” Bella noted.

Eating, Talking, and Brushing with Invisalign

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Invisalign aligner trays

Since the trays come out when you eat, but the buttons stay on, she has noticed that sometimes food gets stuck on her teeth, but she’s found a solution: “I like to go into a bathroom to put my trays on and off, and I’ve gotten into the habit of brushing my teeth before I put the tray back in, which was an unexpected perk of doing this.”

There were also some things that she thought might happen, but haven’t. “I don’t spit at people,” she says, “and in the beginning my speech was a little affected, but now hardly at all.”

Has she been good about keeping the trays in for the full 22 hours each day? “It was tough when I went on vacation for a few days, and I didn’t really wear them enough–it was just that I was always eating!” But besides that, she is still on track to finish on time–a mere 3 months.

“I change my aligners every Wednesday,” which is one time a week rather than two. While not everyone’s treatment can be this accelerated, Bella is happy that she qualified and that her treatment is going by quickly.

“I already notice that it’s much easier to floss, and I don’t bite my cheeks like I used to because of the position of my molars,” she beams, flashing an already straighter smile.

To talk to Bella about her experience, or to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Jain to see if Invisalign is for you, give us a call at 201-501-8282.

 

 

Why Teeth Shift and How to Fix It

Over one-third of Americans are unhappy with their smile, and more than 78 percent of Americans perceive adults with crooked teeth to be unsuccessful. There is clearly a lot of value placed on a nice, straight smile. While a large number of Americans do get braces during adolescence, let’s be honest, not all of us are great at using our retainers.

As a result, our teeth continue to shift and our centric occlusion–where our teeth touch and rest when our mouth is closed–changes. 

Why do our teeth keep shifting?

Teeth shift due to the every day forces that are acting upon them like your tongue and lips. Do you bite your lip when you’re nervous, causing it to come up over your bottom teeth? Try to swallow saliva without your tongue pushing against your upper teeth. It’s tricky. “And the average human swallows more than 2,000 times every day!” notes Dr. Tom Draper on his Oral Answers blog

Other forces causing your teeth to shift can include your labial frenum (the little lines that connects your lip to your gum), missing teeth that force your other teeth to shift in order to help fill the space, and finally, grinding or clenching of your teeth.

With so many forces, it’s no wonder we are ready for an adjustment by the time we reach adulthood.

Options for Improving Teeth Alignment

Fortunately, there are different options available to adults based on the type and severity of the malocclusion, or imperfect positioning of the teeth when the mouth is closed. A popular option for many adults is the clear aligner therapies, such as Invisalign, that are more discreet and tend to be faster than traditional orthodontics, like braces.  Some Invisalign treatments can correct a minor alignment imperfection in less than 6 months.

How Does Teeth Alignment Work?

With any type of teeth alignment therapy, the process is pretty straightforward: adhere something to the teeth such a bracket, and then use consistent pressure on the teeth to nudge them into the proper alignment over time. The way this is done and the time it takes varies on the type of alignment therapy used.

Traditional Braces

bracesWith traditional braces, a metal bracket is adhered to the tooth with glue. Then, thin metal wires are placed through the brackets that apply pressure which moves the teeth. The wires are changed periodically, each time helping to move the teeth into the desired position. The brackets and wires are reinforced with ligature elastic, or elastic bands whose colors can be changed (Remember getting different colored bands, like orange and black for Halloween?).

Traditional braces on average require 18 months to 3 years to obtain the desired result. There are ways to speed up the traditional braces process, however, but they come with mixed results. Some of these accelerated orthodontics include applying more force at certain times during the day, and stimulating bone remodeling.

Clear Alignment Therapy (Invisalign)

invisalign1Clear alignment therapy such as Invisalign is typically a shorter process. Rather than metal, Invisalign uses clear trays similar to teeth-whitening trays that are made out of a thermoplastic material.

Each tray is special-made to help move your teeth into the ultimate desired positioning. You change the trays every 1 -2 weeks. Depending on what kind of movement is needed to realign your teeth, you may need a few small brackets that are bonded to your teeth. These brackets help the aligner trays to do their job.

With clear alignment therapy, you wear the trays an average of 22 hours each day (including nighttime). You remove them when you eat.

One major difference between clear alignment and traditional braces is that traditional braces must be put on by an orthodontist, whereas clear alignment therapy, like Invisalign, can be done by a general dentist trained in cosmetic dentistry.

To find out more about whether clear alignment therapy is for you, schedule a free consultation with Dr. Jain or Dr. Koh by calling 201-501-8282.

Baby Boomers and Dental Healthcare

bigstock-senior-smiling-couple-in-love-20703293Every day, over 10,000 baby boomers celebrate their 65th birthday. By 2030, there will be 74 million adults over the age of 65. It is therefore more important than ever to expand on, improve, and talk about dental healthcare for older adults, which is exactly what Oral Health America did in its third comprehensive report which came out this year. The report noted that baby boomers differ greatly from their parents’ generation in terms of oral health in several ways.

Not Your Typical Generation

First, baby boomers are not only more likely to have their teeth for much longer than their parents did, they are also more interested in ways to have a brighter, better smile through whitening, alignment correcting, and more. Due to advances in medicine, people are also living much longer, as the Academy of General Dentistry’s Impact Magazine points out, making oral healthcare relevant and important for much longer.  When seeking out options for cosmetic dentistry, however, it is important to keep in mind that your medications and other measures you may be taking to stay healthy can be affecting your oral health.

The Medication and Oral Health Link

pills-1885550_1280Advances in medicine also means that many older patients are taking certain medications to help them live healthier, longer lives. Some of these medications may have consequences for oral health. The American Dental Association discusses the links between medication and cavities , and medications and dry mouth for patients over 60. “As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications.” These include medications for asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety, and more.

Fortunately, there are options for dry mouth now, both in and out of the dental chair. These include Saliva Max, a a supersaturated calcium phosphate powder that when dissolved in water, creates a solution with a high concentration of electrolytes similar to that of natural saliva. The key is knowing that these symptoms exist so you can be ready to address them when they do arise. 

Prolong Your Health with Oral Cancer Screenings

orthodontist-287285_1280Oral exams at East Madison Dental also include an oral cancer screening as well as a mouth, throat and neck exam that looks for skin discolorations, lumps or bumps, swollen glands, and more, that could indicate a serious health issue. The American Dental Association has declared that “the mouth is a window into the health of the body.” Over the last decade, research into oral hygiene and dental problems has revealed many connections between problems in the mouth, and problems in the rest of the body.

Inflammation in the gums, for example, has been shown to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar and has been attributed to increased rates of diabetes. There is also a proven link between gum disease and heart disease. In addition, the mouth is the way our bodies receive nutrients, so if our gums are sore and swollen and our mouths hurt, we are less likely to eat healthy.

Finally, adults in their 40’s and 50’s should also be aware of increases in oral cancer diagnoses which has been linked to HPV. This is why oral cancer screenings are more important than ever in ensuring prolonged health, and the treatment of any problems early on. 

How to Best Serve All Our Patients

Regardless of age, East Madison Dental prides itself on offering excellent customer service, and genuinely caring about our patients and their health, oral or otherwise. “We take a holistic approach to our patients’ care because physical, mental, and dental health are all related,” says Office Manager Daniel Tise. “From our admin staff to our assistants, hygienists, and doctors, we are all focused on providing a high quality experience where patients feel comfortable, informed, and in control of their treatment.” 

In addition, the office is also prepared to handle any and all needs that our patients may have. A multi-specialty, state of the art office, East Madison Dental provides patients with the convenience of receiving a variety of procedures in one space–from root canals to oral surgery to crowns made in-house. The office is also ADA accessible. 

We hope to continue to grow to meet any new and changing needs our patients may have. If there is a special request or concern that you have, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Oral Cancer Screenings More Important Than Ever

orthodontist-287285_1280With smoking rates among Americans down, many doctors expected to see a decrease in cancer diagnoses, particularly throat and neck. Instead, they started seeing an increase. This rise in oral cancer, particularly in the tonsils and back of the tongue (known as oropharyngeal cancers), has now been linked to HPV infection. “Most people in the field thought I was crazy,” Maura Gillison, an oncologist at Ohio State University says of the moment when she began testing tumor samples for HPV. But the results kept coming back positive, reports the AARP, and now 3 out of 4 cases of oralpharyngeal cancers are HPV positive. 

HPV and Oral Cancers

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. In some people, the virus goes away, while in others it remains and can cause genital warts and cancers. Many people are aware of the connection between HPV and cervical cancer in women, but until recently the prevalence of oral cancer as a result of HPV was unknown.

The recent rise in oral cancers–over 12,000 new cases each year–is affecting mostly men in their 40’s and 50’s, and many were exposed to the HPV virus in their 20’s. There is currently no test for HPV in men, which makes oral cancer screenings that much more important.  With early detection, oral cancer can have a 90% survival rate, or more.

Oral Cancer Screenings with Your Dentist

An easy way to get consistent screenings for oral cancer is at your dentist’s office. Dr. Narpat Jain of East Madison Dental has been making oral cancer screenings a regular part of the comprehensive and periodic exams at his practice since he opened 20 years ago.  This means that patients are receiving oral cancer screenings two times a year as part of their regular oral hygiene regimen. This preventative measure has enabled several patients over the years to receive an early diagnosis and seek immediate treatment, reports the practice.

HPV Vaccine

There is currently a vaccine for HPV that is recommended for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12, and up to the ages of 21 in men and 26 in women. The vaccine was initially intended to curb the high rates of cervical cancer in women, but there’s every reason to believe that it will also help curtail rates of oral and other cancers linked to HPV.

For more information about HPV and oral cancer screenings, speak with your primary care physician and dentist today.

 

 

Top Five Teeth-Friendly Recipes for the Holidays

The holidays can get so busy, it’s easy to forget the small everyday things–like oral hygiene. Plus, the holidays expose us to food on what seems like a constant basis, and it can be tricky to forget to take breaks to floss, brush, and rinse. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of five recipes that use teeth-friendly foods that you can easily incorporate into your holiday menu. Of course, even the healthiest of foods can’t take the place of a good brush-and-floss session, but these can get you through those tough pinches.

The Top Five Teeth-Friendly Foods and Recipes

leafygreensLeafy Greens: Leafy greens are healthy all around, but it’s the folic acid, vitamin B, and calcium that your teeth will appreciate. An added bonus for pregnant women: folic acid has been shown to help reduce the risk of cleft-lip or cleft palate, and vitamin B can help treat gum disease in pregnant women.

creamykaleCreamed Kale RecipeFrom Nutmeg Mary, “This totally simple creamed kale is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Full of healthy kale, cream cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Hello delicious!”

New York Times Leafy Green Salads“Kathryn Anible, a personal chef in New York City, has a solution for adding color to your holiday table: leafy greens with an autumn flair.”

carrotsapplescasseroleApples and Carrots: An exception to the common no-sweets rule, apples are at the top of this list because they are high in fiber and H2O. Fiber has been linked in some studies to slowing gum recession. The water in apples combined with the action of chewing them increases the saliva in your mouth which rinses away bacteria and food particles in your mouth. For this reason, hard fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, and celery can be good to munch on in between or after meals.

carrotslawrecipeMaple Roasted Carrots, Apples, and Onions: From the Heritage Cook, this dish “may not be a combination of ingredients that you normally would think to put together, they blend beautifully.” 

Carrot Slaw with Cranberries, Toasted Walnuts & Citrus VinaigretteOnce Upon a Chef’s Jenn Segal knows how to prepare a colorful and healthy Thanksgiving side dish. “

platterCheese: Dairy products like cheese raise your mouth’s pH level, which can lower the risk of tooth decay. Plus, cheese is filled with calcium and protein that strengthens teeth enamel. We recommend setting out a raw veggie and cheese platter between courses!

Cashews: These nuts contain anacardic acid which has been shown to kill the bacteria known to cause tooth decay, as well as acne.

greenbeanscashewsGreen Beans with Ginger and CashewsEpicurious notes, “This streamlined dish, which needs just a brief rewarming on top of the stove before serving, won’t contribute to a last-minute traffic jam in the oven.” Noted!

 

Don’t forget that brushing, flossing, and drinking lots of water are the best defenses against tooth decay. 

From all of us at East Madison Dental, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

The Facts on Flossing

girlsmiling_crop2In August of this year, the dental world was rocked by an Associated Press article that declared the benefits of floss to be unproven. Why did this hit the professional oral hygiene advocates so hard? Because it is only half true, and the problem lies in the research, not the act itself.

Much of the current evidence does not utilize a large sample size or examine gum health over a significant amount of time,” the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) announced in response to the AP article fall out.

If the research for the benefits of flossing alone isn’t there, then what do we know? A lot, as it turns out.

The Real Issue

The real issue is biofilm disruption and creating homeostasis so pathogenic microbes can’t survive. Floss is only one tool,” reports the Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine this month. In other words, it is important to get as much bad bacteria out of your mouth as possible, and flossing is one way to do that. Remember, brushing only cleans a part of your teeth–about 60% of what’s there. 

Would you ever wash only 60% of your body in the shower and declare yourself squeaky clean?” asks Dr. William Glaros from Texas on his blog. Of course not. So what do we do about the other 40%?

Fortunately, there is now an arsenal of debris disrupting, plaque-kicking, bio-film blasting (you get the idea) products and tools that you can use in addition to brushing to keep your mouth clean and your teeth decay-free. Read on.

Floss Properly

One of the main problems that hygienists and dentists see daily is that patients are not flossing properly, which is almost akin to not doing it at all. Fortunately, the American Dental Association has a quick video where you can check up on your technique. When done properly, flossing removes the food debris from the sides of the teeth, helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities from forming.

Even with the proper technique, flossing is still not for everyone. Indeed, almost 36% of Americans would rather do an unpleasant activity, like clean the toilet bowl, rather than floss. Sure, this might be because a good number of people don’t do it correctly, but if you do find yourself in this category, here are some great alternatives to conventional flossing that might be your style.

Flossing Alternatives

oral-health-productsInter-dental Brushes – Recent studies on inter-dental brushes are really encouraging, and show that they can be highly effective in inter-dental plaque removal. These brushes are small and compact, available at most drugstores, and easy to use.

Water Picks – Another method gaining a lot of traction recently is the water pick. In fact, new water picks like these are one of the hot items at the upcoming Dental Convention in New York next week. Water picks can be both corded and cordless, and are meant to replicate the high pressure water devices that dentists use in the office to blast away food particles and debris from between your teeth. One recommendation for water pick use, however, is to use it before brushing because the water pressure can wash off the fluoride from your toothpaste, rendering it ineffective.

vitality_electricbrushElectric Toothbrushes – For those opposed to any type of flossing, or for whom flossing is not a daily routine, electric brushes can help to pick up the slack. Electric brushes have been shown to be a good deal better than regular manual brushing at reducing plaque and gingivitis and might just be what you need in between flossing. East Madison Dental hygienist Hillary Willick recommends the Oral B Vitality Electric Toothbrush for newbies because of its effectiveness and affordability (think: excellent holiday gift).

There you have it! The facts about flossing. Now there’s no reason to lie to your hygienist about how often you floss (something that over 21% of Americans admit to doing, by the way!). You can be honest about the technique that works for you, and even ask for some pointers.

 

Pregnancy and Oral Health: What You Need to Know

pregnancyphoto2November is Prematurity Awareness Month, making it an opportune time to discuss the importance of good oral hygiene during pregnancy. Did you know that pregnant women are 70% more likely to experience gingivitis than the average adult? Even more alarming, studies continue to show a link between gingivitis in pregnant women and low-weight or premature births. Fortunately, practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dental provider during pregnancy can significantly reduce these risks. Read on for more info.

Pregnancy and Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. The symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen and tender gums, bleeding while brushing, gums that recede or pull away from teeth, and recurring bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. Many adults experience gingivitis and gum disease at some point in their lives, but the rate increases with pregnancy. There are many reasons for this increase, including hormone increases that bring on gum inflammation, morning sickness which can damage teeth enamel, increased sugar intake, and a strong gag reflex that might discourage pregnant women from brushing. Even with so many factors that can cause gingivitis, more than half of women report not seeing a dental provider during pregnancy–a startling statistic that can have serious consequences for women and their babies’ health.

The Mouth as a Gateway to the Body

The American Dental Association has declared that “the mouth is a window into the health of the body.” Over the last decade, research into oral hygiene and dental problems has revealed many connections between problems in the mouth, and problems in the rest of the body. Inflammation in the gums, for example, has been shown to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar and has been attributed to increased rates of diabetes. There is also a proven link between gum disease and heart disease. In addition, the mouth is the way our bodies receive nutrients, so if our gums are sore and swollen and our mouths hurt, we are less likely to eat healthy. For pregnant women, this can be detrimental to the woman’s and baby’s health.

Premature Births and Pregnancy Gingivitis

dentist_patientRecent studies are increasingly pointing to a direct link between gingivitis and premature births. 1 in 10 births in the United States are premature. Babies born prematurely are more prone to health issues such as growth and developmental deficiencies. While the reasons for the link are not yet known, researchers are cautioning dental providers to be diligent in educating patients about the importance of dental visits and good oral hygiene during pregnancy. To promote this cause across the country, March of Dimes and Proctor & Gamble have partnered during Prematurity Awareness Month to provide information for patients and dental providers alike.

The best defense against pregnancy gingivitis and the complications it may cause are good oral hygiene and a visit to the dentist at least every 6 months, or as recommended by your dental provider. 

East Madison Dental is committed to being oral health leaders, and our hygienists and dentists are able to provide information on this issue and answer any questions you may have. Whether you are coming in for a visit, or just want to call to find out more, we are available to assist you.

You can also check out these great resources for more information on this important issue:

Oral Health Matters Especially During Pregnancy

DentalCare.Com’s Pregnancy and Oral Health Page

 

Announcing the East Madison Dental November Food Drive

fooddriveimage_smallNovember is the month of sharing, family, and giving thanks. To kick off the month, East Madison Dental is announcing its first Food Drive. EMD has teamed up with Center for Food Action to donate non-perishable food items to New Jersey families living in poverty. Throughout the year, the Center for Food Action provides food, housing, utility and heating assistance and offers counseling and advocacy services to low-income individuals and families. On average, CFA gives out more than 4,700 seven-day food packages monthly and provides holiday food packages to more than 3,300 households.

We need your help to make this the most successful food drive it can be! Please stop by East Madison Dental throughout the month of November with your non-perishable items. Don’t forget to help us spread the word as well! Feel free to share this article with your friends and family and encourage them to bring in some items. Together, we can make a difference this November!

For donation guidelines, head to CFA’s website: http://cfanj.org/how-donate-food/

Share Your Sweets with US Troops this Halloween

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Halloween Candy Give Back at East Madison Dental

Halloween is just around the corner! While you and your children are probably busy getting costumes ready and preparing for some trick-or-treating, dentists and hygienists around the country are busy getting worried about so much sugar intake! This year, East Madison Dental hopes to reduce the amount of sugar that children consume, which can lead to cavities and other serious dental problems. We are running a Halloween Candy Give Back where you can drop off some or all of your Halloween candy and it will be donated to US troops overseas. It’s easy to participate: just drop off your candy at East Madison Dental Office between October 31 and November 5th. We will be giving out spinbrush toothbrushes to the first 50 children to give back candy! 

This is a great way to avoid future dental complications, while sharing some of the joy of Halloween with our troops!

halloweencandyRemember to Eat Your Candy Responsibly

It’s great for children to enjoy a bit of their Halloween “loot”, but make sure they’re being extra good about brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Remember that baby teeth are just as susceptible to tooth decay as adult teeth, and bacteria that enters your child’s gums can affect the proper development of his or her adult teeth. By eating candy in moderation, brushing and flossing, and drinking a glass of water after sweets, future dental problems can be easily avoided.

From all of us at East Madison Dental: Have a Happy, Safe, and Fun Halloween and we hope to see you for the Candy Give Back! 

Why is Fluoride Important for Your Teeth?

fluoride_wordcloudThis month is National Dental Hygiene Month, and East Madison Dental is celebrating by offering free fluoride treatments for patients coming in for a cleaning throughout the month of October.

Why is Fluoride Important?

Put simply, fluoride helps to fight tooth decay. Every day, the enamel, or outer layer of your teeth, loses and gains certain minerals. If you lose more minerals than you gain, tooth decay will start to occur as bacteria is able to start dissolving tooth enamel. Increasing minerals such as fluoride, calcium and phosphate in your saliva can keep tooth decay from occurring by strengthening your teeth’s enamel. In some cases, fluoride can even help to reverse early tooth decay that has already begun. Fluoride is a great choice for gaining minerals because it’s available in water, foods, toothpaste, and as a dental treatment.

drinking_waterWhere is Fluoride Found?

Fluoride can be found in tap water in some areas, certain foods and toothpastes, and at the dentist’s office. Drinking a lot of water not only helps your saliva increase its fluoride content, it also promotes good dental hygiene by flushing out food particles and hydrating your body. Using a toothpaste with fluoride is also a good way to help keep your teeth strong. Your hygienist can recommend one for you. During your hygienist appointment, you can also request a fluoride treatment. Fluoride treatments use a more concentrated amount of fluoride than what is found in regular toothpaste. This fluoride is applied directly to your teeth by your hygienist.

Fluoride for Children

When fluoride is given to children before teeth eruption, it can help to strengthen tooth enamel once teeth do appear. If a child has had cavities or is at risk for teeth decay as determined by a dentist or hygienist, then increased topical fluoride may help to fight tooth decay, such as toothpastes containing fluoride. Speak with your dentist or hygienist about fluoride supplements, treatments, and how to best provide fluoride intake for your child.