KeepYourNewStraightenedSmileStraightWithanOrthodonticRetainer

You can't correct a poor bite with braces or clear aligners overnight: Even the most cut-and-dried case can still require a few years to move teeth where they should be. It's a welcome relief, then, when you're finally done with braces or aligner trays.

That doesn't mean, however, that you're finished with orthodontic treatment. You now move into the next phase—protecting your new smile that took so much to gain. At least for a couple of more years you'll need to regularly wear an orthodontic retainer.

The name of this custom-made device explains its purpose: to keep or “retain” your teeth in their new, modified positions. This is necessary because the same mechanism that allows us to move teeth in the first place can work in reverse.

That mechanism centers around a tough but elastic tissue called the periodontal ligament. Although it primarily holds teeth in place, the ligament also allows for tiny, gradual tooth movement in response to mouth changes. Braces or aligner trays take advantage of this ability by exerting pressure on the teeth in the direction of intended movement. The periodontal ligament and nature do the rest.

But once we relieve the pressure when we remove the braces or aligners, a kind of “muscle memory” in the ligament can come into play, causing the teeth to move back to where they originally were. If we don't inhibit this reaction, all the time and effort put into orthodontic treatment can be lost.

Retainers, either the removable type or one fixed in place behind the teeth, gently “push” or “pull” against the teeth (depending on which type) just enough to halt any reversing movement. Initially, a patient will need to wear their retainer around the clock. After a while, wear time can be reduced to just a few hours a day, usually during sleep-time.

Most younger patients will only need to wear a retainer for a few years. Adults who undergo teeth-straightening later in life, however, may need to wear a retainer indefinitely. Even so, a few hours of wear every day is a small price to pay to protect your beautiful straightened smile.

If you would like more information on orthodontic retainers, 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 “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”

By Cohrs Family Dentistry
October 09, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
WisdomTeethBearCloseMonitoringforFutureDentalHealth

One of the major signs that a young person's dental development is nearing completion is the eruption of the last four permanent teeth: the third molars, located rear-most on either side of both the upper and lower jaws. But the advent of these molars, also called wisdom teeth, isn't always a cause for celebration: They can give rise to serious dental problems.

Wisdom teeth often arrive on an already crowded jaw, making them subject to erupting out of position or becoming impacted, totally or partially submerged in the gums. This can cause harm not only to themselves, but also to other teeth: They can impinge on and damage the roots of their neighbors; impede brushing and flossing and increase the risk of disease; and skew the alignment of other teeth to create poor bites that affect dental health and function.

Wisdom teeth are considered so prone to these problems (an estimated 70% between ages 20 and 30 have at least one impacted molar) that it's been a common practice to remove them before they show signs of disease or poor bite development. As a result, third molar extractions are the most common surgical procedure performed by oral surgeons.

But the dental profession is now reevaluating this practice of early removal. On the whole, it's difficult to predict if the eruption of wisdom teeth in a particular person will actually lead to problems. It may be premature, then, to remove wisdom teeth before there's sufficient evidence of its necessity.

As a result, many dentists now follow a more nuanced approach to wisdom teeth management. An impacted wisdom tooth that's diseased or contributing to disease is an obvious candidate for removal. But if the eruption is proceeding without signs of impaction, disease or poor bite development, many providers recommend not removing them early. Instead, their development is allowed to continue, although monitored closely.

If signs of problems do begin to emerge, then removal may again be an option. Until then, a more long-term watchful approach toward wisdom teeth may be the best strategy for helping a young person achieve optimal dental health.

If you would like more information on managing wisdom teeth treatment, 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 “Wisdom Teeth: Coming of Age May Come With a Dilemma.”

By Cohrs Family Dentistry
October 08, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Gums are an often-overlooked component of dental health, despite being the literal base of what secures our teeth in place. The prevention of gum disease is key to keeping your teeth strong, healthy and intact. Doctors can detect early signs of gum disease and infections that impact almost everyone who doesn’t practice good oral hygiene. Dentist, Dr. Keith Cohrs, in Portage, MI, can provide care that ensures those types of bacterial infections, like gingivitis, don’t develop into more dangerous ailments such as periodontitis, which can eventually cause gum recession and tooth loss.

More About Gum Disease

Gum disease progresses over four stages. Gingivitis, then slight, moderate and advanced periodontitis. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to visit your Portage, MI dentist for regular checkups and deep teeth cleanings, along with the practice of daily, thorough, oral hygiene.

  1. Gingivitis involves the initial accumulation of plaque and tartar under the gums and around teeth. Be on the watch for bleeding when brushing and flossing your teeth, as well as swelling and redness of the gums.
     
  2. Slight periodontitis is a progression of the infection to the bone, where the more aggressive bacteria eats away at the very structure that supports the teeth, destroying the bones. It is too late to reverse the damage with simple brushing and flossing, as a dentist’s intervention is now needed.
     
  3. Moderate periodontitis is an even more severe form of the disease, in which there is drastic gum recession, and even more bone loss, as the gums detach from the teeth and the bacteria form deposits deep in the gums.
     
  4. Advanced periodontitis is the last stage of gum disease, where bacteria have burrowed deep into bone and gum to form pockets of periodontal abscesses, as teeth continue to loosen and shift.

Caring for your Dental Hygiene

The number one way to combat gum disease is basic oral hygiene and abstaining from harmful habits, such as smoking and consuming excess sugar. Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash all offer different ways of clearing hidden plaque under the gums. However, all these methods are the mere minimum. Your Portage dentist can perform the deep teeth cleanings needed to remove the hardened tartar and calculus, as well as provide instructions on the most effective ways to maintain oral hygiene and help catch gum disease at its onset.

Need to speak to a dentist?

To schedule your next appointment with Portage, MI, dentist, Dr. Keith Cohrs, call (269) 382-3125 or visit portagedentistry.com to learn more about how to avoid and prevent the harmful effects of gum disease.

By Cohrs Family Dentistry
September 29, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease   oral hygiene  
PreventingGumDiseaseCouldHelpMoreThanYourTeethandGums

The top cause for adult tooth loss isn't decay or trauma—it's periodontal (gum) disease. The disease may begin with the gums, but it can ultimately damage underlying bone enough to weaken its support of teeth, causing them to loosen and fall out.

But that's not the end of the havoc gum disease can wreak. The consequences of an uncontrolled infection can ripple beyond the mouth and worsen other health problems like diabetes, heart disease or arthritis.

The common link between gum disease and these other conditions is the inflammatory response, a natural mechanism to fight infection caused by disease or trauma. This mechanism changes blood vessels to increase blood flow to hasten the travel of protective white blood cells to the injury or disease location.

But if this mechanism that supports healing becomes chronic, it can actually do harm. The chronic inflammation that occurs with gum disease can damage mouth structures, just as inflammation from diabetes or arthritis can damage other parts of the body. And any form of chronic inflammation, even that found in gum disease, can worsen other inflammatory diseases.

You can lessen this link between gum disease and other conditions—as well as improve your oral health—by preventing or seeking prompt treatment for any periodontal infection in the following ways:

  • Practice daily brushing and flossing to clear away bacterial dental plaque, the main cause of gum disease;
  • See your dentist regularly for more thorough dental cleanings and checkups;
  • See your dentist promptly if you notice red, swollen or bleeding gums, common signs of a gum infection;
  • Stop smoking to lower your risk for both gum disease and tooth decay;
  • Adopt a healthy diet, which can help you lose weight (a factor in diabetes and other inflammatory diseases) and strengthen your immune system;
  • Manage other inflammatory conditions to lessen their effect on your gum disease risk.

Taking these steps can help you avoid the inflammation caused by gum disease that might also affect the rest your body. Seeking prompt treatment at the first sign of an infection will also minimize the damage to your teeth and gums and the effect it could have on the rest of your health.

If you would like more information on prevention and treatment of gum disease, 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 “Gum Disease & Systemic Health.”

By Cohrs Family Dentistry
September 24, 2020
Category: Oral Health

From the moment your child’s first teeth come in you’re probably thinking about bringing them into the dentist; however, your child’s growing smile has different needs from an adult’s, so you’ll want to find a dentist that can address these specific and unique needs, and this is exactly what our Portage, MI, children’s dentist Dr. Keith Cohrs does.

Our Portage, MI, children’s dentist is able to provide individualized care to children and teens to help them maintain healthy smiles.

Here are some of the dentistry services we offer,

  • Routine preventive care including cleaning, x-rays and exams
  • Emergency dental care
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Custom sports mouthguards
  • Premature tooth loss treatment for primary teeth
  • Advice for how to properly clean and care for your child’s teeth, including recommending toothpaste, toothbrushes and other home tools that can reduce plaque and tartar buildup
  • Preventive treatments such as fluoride and dental sealants
  • Sedation dentistry (to help nervous patients relax during dental treatment)

A children's dentist also understands just how important it is to create a comfortable dental office with a soothing and welcoming environment. We want to make your child’s dental visits as easy and painless as possible, and that starts with creating an environment that makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.

If you are looking for a children’s dentist that provides gentle, friendly and comprehensive care to children and teens in Portage, MI, then call our office today at (269) 382-3125 to schedule your child’s next checkup.





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