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The 4 Types of Braces

There's more than one way to straighten your teeth and let your smile shine through. Know the different options for braces.

There’s more than one way to straighten your teeth and let your smile shine through. Know the different options for braces.

It’s a good time to get braces. Whatever your age or particular dental situation, there have never been more options available to you for getting the straight, perfect smile you’ve always wished for. At West Meade Dental, we believe strongly in the value of braces. Not only can they improve your self-esteem but they can lead to a lifetime of healthy dental habits, will help your teeth to wear better over time, and will make you better able to thoroughly clean your teeth. In young people, braces can even guide facial growth for a more attractive profile. We’re talking about longterm benefits that result from a short period of wearing braces.

What Type of Braces Should I Get?

There are four basic types of braces used today:

  1. Metal braces. These are the braces—made of metal brackets and wire—that we traditionally think of. If you’re picturing a mouth of full of metal, however, you may want to revise your vision. Modern brackets are much smaller and more discreet than they once were. Many children like that traditional metal braces can be accessorized with colored rubber bands or can be different colors themselves.
  2. Ceramic braces. Though ceramic braces are exactly the same size as metal braces, they are clear or “tooth-colored” so that they do a great job of blending in with your teeth. These braces are more expensive, however, and can stain if they’re not cleaned well.
  3. Lingual braces. Located behind your teeth instead of on the surface, lingual braces are less noticeable than traditional braces though many find them more uncomfortable. These braces are best for smiles that need only minor adjustments.
  4. Invisalign braces. Adults and teens are increasingly choosing Invisalign braces, which are nearly invisible and molded to fit specially to your teeth. A new mold must be made every two weeks, so that you’ll have 18 to 30 molds made over the life of your “braces.” This is a more expensive option for straightening your teeth.

Have questions about getting braces? Contact us today. Your friends at West Meade Dental are happy to get them answered. We love improving the smiles of our patients in and around Nashville, TN, and also offer teeth whitening and porcelain veneers, among other cosmetic dentistry services.

Grinding Your Teeth? Here’s What You Need To Know

Dangers and Cures of Grinding Your Teeth

It is not abnormal for people to grind their teeth from time to time. The condition in which this occurs is called bruxism and, if it only occurs in moderation, it is not terribly dangerous. However, if someone chronically grinds his or her teeth, it can lead to serious damage to their teeth as well as other areas of the mouth. The good news is that there are ways to remedy this situation before it becomes too serious.

In some cases, bruxism is caused by any number of external stressors that a person is experiencing in their life. However, a physical issue with the teeth or mouth often causes it. For example, grinding of the teeth may result from missing teeth, crooked teeth or even an abnormal bite. Although it can occur at any time, many people do not even realize that they are grinding their teeth because it only occurs at night.

Are You Grinding Your Teeth at Night - Nashville TN - West Meade Dental

Are You Grinding Your Teeth at Night – Nashville TN – West Meade Dental

The simplest results of teeth grinding are headaches and pain in the jaw. However, there can be far more serious affects of bruxism. Over time, the condition can result in someone breaking, loosening or even losing some of his or her teeth. In the worst cases, the teeth grind down completely. In addition to damaging the teeth, bruxism can damage the jaw and even result in hearing loss of facial deformities.

The majority of teeth grinding takes place at night and there are specific remedies for that type of situation. Many people find relief after they are fitted with a mouth guard from their dentist.  Someone who grinds his or her teeth at night should also be sure to avoid caffeine or alcohol, especially before bedtime. To break the habit of grinding, it is important to resist the urge to chew on anything other than food, such as pen caps or fingernails. It can also be helpful to sleep with a warm washcloth next to the face, which will help relax the jaw.

These remedies alone may not work if the bruxism is the result of external stress. In this case, it may be necessary to see a therapist who can prescribe ways to deal with stress. This may include therapy or even muscle relaxers, which will decrease the urge to grind the teeth while sleeping. Many people often find that a change in diet or exercise routine can help reduce the effects of stress in their lives.

Parents will often notice that their babies may be grinding their teeth and will become concerned about long-term damage. It is common for babies to grind their teeth, especially when they are first teething. In most cases, this will stop once the child has finished growing in all of their adult teeth. It usually does not cause any damage, although the child may experience headaches and jaw pain. If the parent notices that their child’s teeth are becoming worn or broken, they should take them to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is not cause for concern.

Grinding of the teeth is a difficult problem to identify because it often takes place while the person is sleeping. A patient who commonly wakes up with jaw pain or headaches may be suffering from bruxism. A visit to the dentist will help determine whether it is caused by stress or by a physical problem with the teeth or jaw. Allowing this problem to go untreated can result in significant damage to the teeth and jaw, so it is necessary to visit a dentist at the first sign of a problem with grinding the teeth.

Do I Need An Orthodontist?

Identifying When a Dentist or Orthodontist is Needed

When do you need a dentist, orthodontist, or other dental professional? The answer depends on the condition and how long it has been present. In general, adults and children should visit a dentist once every six months for a complete oral examination and teeth cleaning procedure. If a dentist finds issues such as cavities or the beginning stages of gum disease, a follow-up visit may be required. Crooked or crowded teeth are among the issues that may indicate the need to visit an orthodontist. Their specialty is the strategic shifting of teeth.

During a general examination, the dentist inspects the gums, teeth, and tongue and may probe certain areas to test for sensitivity or cavities. Teeth are then scaled to remove plaque and tartar buildup before cleaning each tooth with a special instrument and dental paste. If fluoride treatment is recommended, it is applied to clean teeth and the mouth is rinsed. Periodically, the dentist may take X-rays of the teeth and mouth. Current condition and medical and dental history determine the frequency of X-rays.

Dental Check-up - Nashville TN - West Meade Dental

Dental Check-up – Nashville TN – West Meade Dental

Dental X-rays are used to visualize tooth and oral tissue diseases that an examination cannot identify. Dentists use X-rays to help located and treat dental issues at early stages, potentially saving pain, money, and even lives. For children, these X-rays help identify decay, determine whether the mouth has enough space to accommodate incoming teeth, and assess whether primary tooth loss is occurring fast enough to allow the proper emergence of permanent teeth.

An X-ray can verify wisdom tooth development in older children and whether these teeth will be able to emerge through gums. With adults, X-rays are used to reveal areas of decay that are not visible during an oral exam, particularly decay between teeth. An X-ray can identify changes in the root canal or bone due to infection and point out bone loss due to gum disease. Dentists often use X-rays to assist with preparation of dentures, implants, braces, and other procedures.

Most symptoms or issues that pertain to the teeth, gums, and mouth are not emergencies. However, immediate attention is recommended in certain situations. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, visit a dentist immediately because it may be possible to re-implant the tooth. A dental visit should also be scheduled if a tooth is chipped or broken. Retain the piece that broke off and store it in a cool, moist cloth. Treatment will be based on the extent of the chip or break.

If a tooth is knocked out of its correct position or becomes misaligned, use light pressure to try to push it back into place. Bite down on the tooth to maintain the correct position and see a dentist immediately. Treatment may involve splinting the tooth to help it heal. Trauma to the mouth area may also result in lacerations or cuts on the tongue, cheeks, or gums. Apply direct pressure to control bleeding and seek immediate dental or medical attention.

Non-traumatic tooth issues include tooth pain or a toothache resulting from a dental abscess or cavity in or around a tooth. If the gum around the affected tooth swells significantly, fluid drains from the area, or the pain is severe, have a dentist evaluate the situation. Redness or swelling of gums is not usually an urgent situation but since it may indicate infection or gum disease, schedule a dental appointment as soon as is convenient.

Orthodontic treatment is designed to straighten teeth so they sit well with teeth on the opposite jaw. With a good bite, it becomes easier to speak, bite, and chew. There are several signs that it is time to vista an orthodontist:


  • Losing baby teeth earlier or later than is normal
  • Sucking fingers
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Teeth that are blocked-out, crowded, or misplaced
  • Teeth that protrude
  • Teeth that do not meet or that meet abnormally
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Recessed, protruding, or shifting jaw
  • Jaw that makes sounds
  • Inability to close lips comfortably
  • Biting the roof of the mouth or biting the cheek
  • Facial features disproportionate with the remainder of the face
  • Facial imbalance


Dental treatment helps patients maintain clean and healthy mouths. Orthodontic care is part of comprehensive dental treatment for some patients. It ensures a healthy bite, which is important at any age. Knowing when it is time to visit a dentist or orthodontist and receiving the proper treatment can help teeth last for a lifetime.

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