Posts for: June, 2015

By Carey & Aylward, DDS, PC
June 25, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
EdenSherandtheLostRetainer

Fans of the primetime TV show The Middle were delighted to see that high school senior Sue, played by Eden Sher, finally got her braces off at the start of Season 6. But since this popular sitcom wouldn’t be complete without some slapstick comedy, this happy event is not without its trials and tribulations: The episode ends with Sue’s whole family diving into a dumpster in search of the teen’s lost retainer. Sue finds it in the garbage and immediately pops it in her mouth. But wait — it doesn’t fit, it’s not even hers!

If you think this scenario is far-fetched, guess again. OK, maybe the part about Sue not washing the retainer upon reclaiming it was just a gag (literally and figuratively), but lost retainers are all too common. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to replace — so they need to be handled with care. What’s the best way to do that? Retainers should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap (dish soap works well), and then placed immediately back in your mouth or into the case that came with the retainer. When you are eating a meal at a restaurant, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin and leave it on the table — this is a great way to lose it! Instead, take the case with you, and keep the retainer in it while you’re eating. When you get home, brush your teeth and then put the retainer back in your mouth.

If you do lose your retainer though, let us know right away. Retention is the last step of your orthodontic treatment, and it’s extremely important. You’ve worked hard to get a beautiful smile, and no one wants to see that effort wasted. Yet if you neglect to wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth are likely to shift out of position. Why does this happen?

As you’ve seen firsthand, teeth aren’t rigidly fixed in the jaw — they can be moved in response to light and continuous force. That’s what orthodontic appliances do: apply the right amount of force in a carefully controlled manner. But there are other forces at work on your teeth that can move them in less predictable ways. For example, normal biting and chewing can, over time, cause your teeth to shift position. To get teeth to stay where they’ve been moved orthodontically, new bone needs to form around them and anchor them where they are. That will happen over time, but only if they are held in place with a retainer. That’s why it is so important to wear yours as directed — and notify us immediately if it gets lost.

And if ever you do have to dig your retainer out of a dumpster… be sure to wash it before putting in in your mouth!

If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Why Orthodontic Retainers?


By Carey & Aylward, DDS, PC
June 23, 2015
Category: Oral Health

Soda Find out why drinking soda could spell disaster for your child’s smile.

With vending machines in schools and sodas found in the majority of refrigerators across America, it’s not surprising that many kids turn to this liquid candy instead of healthier choices. The USDA has found that soft drink consumption has actually increased by as much as 500 percent over the last fifty years. One major consequence of drinking soft drinks is dental erosion and cavities. Find out what soda actually does to your child’s smile and what you can do to make sure your child gets a clean bill of health from Carey & Aylward, DDS, PC their Westland, MI dentists.

Soda and Your Child’s Teeth

We all start out with strong, healthy enamel—the hard outer protective layer of your tooth. Whenever we consume anything acidic like soda, it attacks and softens the tooth’s enamel. Over time, these acid attacks can wear away at the surface of your teeth. Soda, sports drinks and fruit juices are all known to cause dental erosion.

In fact, one study found that 79 percent of soda and fruit juice drinkers had dental erosion and as many as 64 percent also showed signs of minimal tooth wear. Those participants with the most severe forms of dental erosion also drank more soda and fruit juice than those with more minor dental wear.

Protecting Your Child’s Teeth From Decay

So, what can you do to protect your child’s teeth? To start, make a strong effort to keep all sodas out of the house, and limit the amount of fruit juice your child drinks. Instead, stock the fridge with fluoridated water and milk, which are the best options for healthy smiles.

Furthermore, help your child maintain a cavity-free smile by making sure their oral hygiene is up to par. This means brushing their teeth at least twice a day, and flossing daily.

Also, keep in mind that dental erosion doesn’t always spell cavities, so long as you take good care of your teeth. If you continue to see your Westland, MI dentist for routine check-ups every six months, we can prevent the erosion from getting worse and actually causing cavities. By keeping up with your child’s biannual cleanings and exams, you could help them to avoid uncomfortable and expensive dental treatments.

If it’s time for you or your child’s next dental cleaning, call your Westland, MI dentists at Carey & Aylward to schedule your next appointment. A healthy smile starts with proper preventive care.


By Carey & Aylward, DDS, PC
June 10, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: gummy smile  
ImprovingaGummySmileDependsonitsCause

A “gummy” smile, in which the upper gums are too prominent, is a common condition. There are several causes for gummy smiles — determining which one is the first step to having your appearance changed.

Although perceptions vary from person to person, most dentists agree a gummy smile shows 4 mm or more of gum tissue, and the amount is out of proportion with the length of the crown (the visible tooth). Teeth normally erupt through the gums during childhood and continue development until early adulthood, shrinking back from the tooth until stabilizing in place.

This typically produces a crown length of about 10 mm, with a “width to length” ratio of about 75-85%. But variations can produce differences in the relationship between teeth and gums and the width to length ratio of the teeth. The teeth may appear shorter and the gums more prominent. Worn teeth, caused by aging or grinding habits, may also appear shorter.

If tooth to gum proportionality is normal, then the cause may be upper lip movement. When we smile, muscles cause our lips to retract 6-8 mm from the lip’s resting position. If the amount of movement is greater (meaning the lip is hypermobile), it may show too much of the gums. The upper jaw can also extend too far forward and cause the gums to appear too prominent.

There are a number of ways to improve gummy smiles, depending on the cause. Periodontal plastic surgery known as crown lengthening removes and reshapes excess gum tissue to reveal more of the tooth. Lip hypermobility can be reduced with Botox injections (to paralyze the muscles) or in some cases with surgery to reposition the muscle attachments. Orthognathic surgery can be used to surgically reposition an overextended upper jaw. Other cosmetic enhancements such as orthodontics, bonding or porcelain restorations can also prove effective.

The first step is to obtain an accurate diagnosis for your gummy smile. From there, we can devise the best treatment approach to bring your smile back into a more attractive proportion.

If you would like more information on minimizing a gummy smile, 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 “Gummy Smiles.”