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Common Malocclusions

December 22nd, 2021

When we think orthodontics, we commonly think teeth. Naturally! Straight teeth and a beaming smile are everyone’s orthodontic goal. But orthodontics is a field which specializes in more than misaligned teeth. While your beautifully aligned teeth are the visible outcome of your orthodontic work, a properly aligned bite is the foundation for your healthy smile.

A malocclusion occurs when the teeth and jaws aren’t properly aligned—they don’t fit together the way they should when the mouth is closed. A malocclusion, or bad bite, affects many people to some degree, but not always in exactly the same way. Some of the different types of malocclusion include:

  • Crossbite

A crossbite occurs when upper teeth fit inside lower teeth. An anterior crossbite refers to the front teeth, with one or more upper front teeth, or incisors, fitting behind lower front teeth. A posterior crossbite affects the back teeth, with upper teeth fitting inside the lower teeth on one or both sides of the jaw.

  • Crowding

When the jaw is small and/or the teeth are large, lack of space can result in crowded, twisted, or crooked teeth.

  • Open bite

An anterior open bite means that the front teeth don’t close when biting down, leaving an open space between the upper and lower teeth. A posterior open bite occurs when the back teeth don’t make contact when the front teeth close.

  • Overbite

Our upper front teeth naturally overlap the lower ones a small bit when the teeth are closed. An overbite occurs when the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth.

  • Overjet

When the upper front teeth protrude too far forward over the bottom teeth, it’s called an overjet, or, sometimes, buck teeth. Where an overbite causes a vertical overlap, an overjet takes into account the horizontal relationship of the teeth.

  • Spacing

A jaw that is large, teeth that are small, missing teeth—these conditions can lead to gaps between the teeth.

  • Underbite

An underbite results when the lower teeth and jaw extend further forward than the upper teeth and jaw, causing the bottom teeth to overlap the top teeth.

If you have a malocclusion, what comes next? This depends.

Some malocclusions are so minor that no treatment is necessary. Some are the result of misaligned teeth. Some occur because the upper and lower jaws are growing at different rates. Some are a combination of teeth and jaw misalignments. Some are caused by genetics, while others are caused by injuries or habits like prolonged thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.

Because malocclusions are so varied, your treatment plan will be designed for your specific needs. Braces, aligners, appliances like the Herbst® appliance or the palatal expander, surgery for severe malocclusions—there is a larger variety of treatment options than ever before to help you achieve a healthy bite.

When teeth and jaws don’t fit together as they should, the consequences can be damaged teeth and enamel, problems with the temporomandibular joint, headaches and facial pain, and difficulty chewing, eating, and speaking.

The good news is that early intervention for children can help correct teeth and jaw problems before they become more serious, leading to easier orthodontic care in the teen years, and helping to avoid the possibility of surgery or extractions. This is why Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte and our team recommend an orthodontic assessment at our Sparta or Livingston, NJ office for children around the age of seven.

If you’re an adult with concerns about your teeth or bite, there’s good news for you, too. Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte can devise a treatment plan to improve your bite and your smile no matter what your age.

Of course, despite our title, there’s really no such thing as a “common malocclusion” when we’re talking about your dental health. Each person—and each smile—is unique. Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte will diagnose your malocclusion and create a personalized plan carefully tailored to your exact needs, for an uncommonly attractive, confident, and healthy smile.

Brushing with Braces: How to Keep a Clean Mouth

December 15th, 2021

A clean mouth is a happy mouth. And when Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte and our staff see you have a clean mouth, we are happy too. Of course, all of this should make you happy because you’re the one preventing sneaky little food bits from getting trapped under the wires of your braces.

Still, you need to be thorough with your brushing. When you have braces, you’re playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with everything you eat. Here are five tips to keep your mouth (and us) happy.

  1. How is brushing with braces like geometry? It’s all about the angles. Brush the tops of your teeth and braces with your brush angled down. Brush the bottom of your teeth with the brush angled up. Pointy brushes, aka interproximal brushes, are good for reaching the tiny spots around braces.
  2. Brush after every meal. If those sneaky little food bits hide in your mouth for very long, they’ll turn into plaque. And plaque is a sign of a very unhappy mouth.
  3. Brush one tooth at a time for at least ten seconds, and pay close attention to the spots where your braces touch your teeth.
  4. Fluoride is your new BFF. Make sure your toothpaste and mouthwash contain this cavity-fighting ingredient.
  5. Braces are no excuse not to floss. In fact, saying you can’t floss because you have braces is like saying the dog ate your homework. Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte and our staff, like your geometry teacher, aren’t going to buy it. Be sure to floss after every meal.

Kristin Cavallari and Palatal Expanders

December 8th, 2021

It’s no easy feat to have one of the best smiles in Hollywood. The reality TV starlet Kristin Cavallari attributes her gorgeous smile to routine oral hygiene, the removal of two impacted wisdom teeth, and having undergone orthodontic treatment. Kristin’s treatment began in sixth grade when she was fitted with a device Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte and our team call a palatal expander, which is used to guide upper jaw growth in our younger patients.

What is a palatal expander?

A palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by applying gentle pressure on your upper molars, and is used to make the bottom and upper teeth fit together better. In addition, palatal expanders work to create more room for teeth, as well as promote a broader, more appealing smile.

Do palatal expanders hurt?

Palatal expanders are usually not painful, however you may experience difficulty speaking and swallowing for the first few days. Adjusting your palatal expander as instructed by Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte will ensure there are no delays in regards to your treatment plan.

Typically, it takes a few weeks to achieve the desired amount of expansion, after which you will keep wearing your expander for about six months, giving time for the new bone to form and stabilize. Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte and our team at Harte Orthodontics will give you detailed instructions about how to adjust your appliance and can answer any questions you may have about your palatal expander.

If you have any questions about your palatal expander or your treatment plan with Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte, please give us a call at our Sparta or Livingston, NJ office!

Orthodontics—Gift Yourself!

December 1st, 2021

It’s the season of giving and the start of a new year. What better time to gift yourself with the orthodontic treatment you’ve always wanted?

Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for children and teenagers. In fact, adults make up a significant—and growing—number of new patients looking forward to beautifully aligned teeth and a healthy bite.

And because today’s orthodontic treatments are more comfortable, take less time, and are less visible than ever before, they are a great fit for your busy adult life. You also have many more options from which to choose, including:

  • Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are a proven method of aligning your teeth and bite, can be more economical than other options, and are often most effective in treating complicated orthodontic issues.

If traditional braces are best for your needs, you’ll be happy to hear that today’s braces are better than ever. Brackets are smaller. Innovative wire technology makes the orthodontic process even more efficient. And with self-ligating brackets, there’s no need for those colorful little bands around each bracket to hold those wires.

  • Ceramic Braces

If you’re looking for something more inconspicuous, consider ceramic brackets. These ceramic or porcelain brackets are color-matched to your teeth, and, especially used with clear bands and lighter wires, create a less visible profile.

  • Lingual Braces

This is your most discreet option, because these braces are located on the inside of the teeth. Lingual braces are custom designed, so they can be more expensive, and treatment can take a bit longer, but they are perfect for those who want invisible braces for personal or professional reasons.

  • Clear Aligners

Clear aligners can treat many orthodontic conditions, including some complicated malocclusions. Your orthodontist can let you know if these removable, comfortable, and subtle aligners will work for you.

Adult orthodontics can give you the confident smile you’ve always wanted, which is reason enough to seek orthodontic treatment at our Sparta or Livingston, NJ office. And perfectly aligned teeth and a healthy bite have dental benefits as well as mental benefits!

  • Reduce the Risk of Cavities and Gum Disease

Crooked and overlapping teeth are harder to keep clean. Getting in between the teeth to remove all the food particles and plaque can be difficult even with the most careful brushing and flossing. Built up plaque increases your risk of cavities, irritates delicate gum tissue, and causes gum disease.

  • Prevent Tooth and Jaw Injuries

If your jaws have never fit together properly, you’ve probably experienced at least some of the consequences of a malocclusion, or bad bite. Worn and cracked teeth, damaged fillings and crowns, jaw pain, headaches, difficulty breathing—all of these problems can be caused by a misaligned bite.

If you’ve always wanted orthodontic treatment, talk to Dr. Douglas and Larry Harte to discover the possibilities. A more confident appearance, reduced risk of cavities and gum disease, a comfortable, pain-free bite—there’s no better gift to give yourself than a lifetime of healthy smiles!

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