My Blog

Posts for: May, 2016


It’s a big moment after months of wearing braces to finally get a glimpse of your new smile. The crooked teeth and poor bite are gone — and in their place are beautiful, straight teeth!

If you’re not careful, though, your new look might not last. That’s because the natural mechanism we used to straighten your teeth may try to return them to their previous poor positions.

Contrary to what many people think, teeth aren’t rigidly set within the jaw bone. Instead, an elastic, fibrous tissue known as the periodontal ligament lies between the teeth and the bone and attaches to both with tiny fibers. Though quite secure, the attachment allows the teeth to move in very minute increments in response to growth or other changes in the mouth.

Orthodontic appliances like braces or clear aligners put pressure on the teeth in the direction we wish them to move. The bone dissolves on the side of the teeth where pressure is being applied or facing the direction of movement and then builds up on the other side where tension is occurring.

The ligament, though, has a kind of “muscle memory” for the teeth’s original position. Unless it’s prevented, this “memory” will pull the teeth back to where they used to be. All the time and effort involved with wearing braces will be lost.

That’s why it’s important for you to wear an appliance called a retainer after your braces have been removed. As the name implies, the appliance “retains” the teeth in their new position until it’s more permanently set. For most people, this means wearing it for twenty-four hours in the beginning, then later only a few hours a day or while you sleep.

The majority of younger patients eventually won’t need to wear a retainer once bone and facial growth has solidified their teeth’s new position. Older adults, though, may need to wear one from now on. Even so, it’s a relatively slight inconvenience to protect that beautiful, hard-won smile.

If you would like more information on 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 Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
May 12, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   crowns  

You might think David Copperfield leads a charmed life:  He can escape from ropes, chains, and prison cells, make a Learjet or a railroad car disappear, and even appear to fly above the stage. But the illustrious illusionist will be the first to admit that making all that magic takes a lot of hard work. And he recently told Dear Doctor magazine that his brilliant smile has benefitted from plenty of behind-the-scenes dental work as well.

“When I was a kid, I had every kind of [treatment]. I had braces, I had headgear, I had rubber bands, and a retainer afterward,” Copperfield said. And then, just when his orthodontic treatment was finally complete, disaster struck. “I was at a mall, running down this concrete alleyway, and there was a little ledge… and I went BOOM!”

Copperfield’s two front teeth were badly injured by the impact. “My front teeth became nice little points,” he said. Yet, although they had lost a great deal of their structure, his dentist was able to restore those damaged teeth in a very natural-looking way. What kind of “magic” did the dentist use?

In Copperfield’s case, the teeth were repaired using crown restorations. Crowns (also called caps) are suitable when a tooth has lost part of its visible structure, but still has healthy roots beneath the gum line. To perform a crown restoration, the first step is to make a precise model of your teeth, often called an impression. This allows a replacement for the visible part of the tooth to be fabricated, and ensures it will fit precisely into your smile. In its exact shape and shade, a well-made crown matches your natural teeth so well that it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart. Subsequently, the crown restoration is permanently attached to the damaged tooth.

There’s a blend of technology and art in making high quality crowns — just as there is in some stage-crafted illusions. But the difference is that the replacement tooth is not just an illusion: It looks, functions and “feels” like your natural teeth… and with proper care it can last for many years to come.  Besides crowns, there are several other types of tooth restorations that are suitable in different situations. We can recommend the right kind of “magic” for you.

If you would like more information about crowns, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Crowns & Bridgework” and “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”

By Harris Smile
May 11, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

Missing teeth come with more than just aesthetic side effects. From moving teeth to bone atrophy, a missing tooth could produce much more complex issues. Luckily, replacing your missing tooth is as easy as asking your dentist about dental implants. Learn more about implants with help from your Warrenton, VA dentist.

What can dental implants do for me? Dental Implants
A dental implant’s functionality is virtually unmatched. Implants’ uses include:

  • Single Tooth Replacement: Your dentist uses a single implant to replace a single tooth.
  • Multiple Tooth Replacement: Two implants on either side of a line of missing teeth serve as anchor points for a dental bridge, replacing two or more teeth in a row. The surrounding natural teeth remain intact since the bridge does not require dental crowns.
  • Implant-Supported Dentures: Traditional dentures rely on suction to stay in your mouth. Implants strategically placed throughout an arch of missing teeth allow your denture to lock into place. Implant-supported dentures can be either removable or permanent.

Am I a candidate for dental implants? 
Your dentist surgically places dental implants directly into your mouth’s jawbone, located underneath your gum tissue. Missing teeth lack the stimulation needed to keep the bone underneath healthy, causing bone loss. Because of their design, implants require minimal bone loss to successfully integrate into the jawbone. Additionally, candidates should be in good general and dental health. The procedure requires general anesthetic and may not be suitable for people who have certain medical conditions. Consult with your Warrenton dentist to determine if dental implants are right for you.

The Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants do much more than replace your missing tooth. Implants replace the tooth’s root and last a lifetime, making them the most permanent and effective tooth replacement option. Implants keep the surrounding teeth in their correct positions and stimulate the bone underneath to prevent bone atrophy. You will never have to worry about your implant moving around or falling out. Your implant will blend with your natural teeth seamlessly and fit, function and feel just like a natural tooth.

For more information on dental implants, please contact Dr. Jeffrey A. Harris at Harris Smile in Warrenton, VA. Call (540) 347-2777 to schedule your consultation for dental implants today!