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Posts for: April, 2018

By Healthwest Dental Associates
April 20, 2018
Category: Oral Health
ActressEmmaStoneRevealsHowThumbSuckingAffectedHerTeeth

It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.

“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”

While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)

When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.

Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.

But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.

Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
April 10, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene   flossing  
NotCrazyaboutFlossingTryaWaterFlosser

The most important part of dental health maintenance isn’t what your dentist does—it’s what you do every day when you brush and floss your teeth. And all you really need is a multi-tufted, soft bristle toothbrush, toothpaste, a roll of dental floss—plus a little effort from your hands and fingers.

Of course, manual power isn’t your only option—an electric or battery-powered toothbrush is a convenient and, for people with strength or dexterity issues, a necessary way to remove disease-causing plaque from tooth surfaces. You have a similar option with flossing—a water flosser.

Although water flossers (or oral irrigators) have been around since the early 1960s, they’ve become more efficient and less expensive in recent years. A water flosser delivers a pulsating stream of pressurized water between the teeth through a handheld device that resembles a power toothbrush, but with a special tip. The water action loosens plaque and then flushes it away.

While the convenience these devices provide over traditional flossing is a major selling point, they’re also quite beneficial for people with special challenges keeping plaque from accumulating between teeth. People wearing braces or other orthodontic devices, for example, may find it much more difficult to effectively maneuver thread floss around their hardware. Water flossing can be an effective alternative.

But is water flossing a good method for removing between-teeth plaque? If performed properly, yes. A 2008 study, for example, reviewed orthodontic patients who used water flossing compared to those only brushing. The study found that those using water flossing were able to remove five times as much plaque as the non-flossing group.

If you’re considering water flossing over traditional flossing thread, talk with your dental hygienist. He or she can give you advice on purchasing a water flosser, as well as how to use the device for optimum performance. It could be a great and more convenient way to keep plaque from between your teeth and harming your dental health.

If you would like more information on water flossing, 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 “Cleaning between Your Teeth: How Water Flossing can help.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
April 05, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: veneers   cosmetic dentistry  

What your dentists in Dothan want you to know about dental veneersveneers

Do you have smile envy? Do you notice other people with gorgeous smiles and want to be like them? If you are embarrassed by your smile, you may have thought about dental veneers. You may be wondering if dental veneers could work for you. The truth is dental veneers are a great choice for just about everyone. Dr. Bayne Heersink and Dr. H. Paul Hufham III, at Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL want to share what dental veneers can do for your smile.

Dental veneers are thin coverings of dazzling porcelain that are cemented over the front surfaces of your teeth. Porcelain looks just like your natural tooth surface because porcelain reflects light just like tooth enamel does. Your new veneers will also stay beautiful because porcelain is stain resistant. That means you can still enjoy a dazzling smile even if you smoke or drink coffee!

Dental veneers are one of the most versatile cosmetic dental treatments because they can mask most minor and major aesthetic issues including:

  • Chipped tooth edges due to aging or bad habits
  • Cracks and fracture lines due to injury or trauma
  • Staining or yellowing due to lifestyle habits or aging
  • Discolored, blotchy teeth due to medications or genetics

If you are bothered by the small gaps between your teeth or teeth that overlap each other, you may be thinking the only answer is orthodontics. Actually, veneers can cosmetically alter the appearance of your smile by cosmetically closing the gaps and hiding tooth overlap so your teeth appear straight!

Veneer treatment begins with a consultation appointment which is your chance to ask questions and discuss how you want your new smile to look. Then your teeth are prepared and models of your teeth are made. The dental technician uses the models to create your new veneers, and then your veneers are permanently cemented. You have a new smile!

Typically dental veneer treatment takes between 2 and 3 appointments. To find out more about dental veneers call Dr. Heersink and Dr. Hufham at Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL. Call today and get started on your new smile!