Hart Orthodontics

Dr. Patrick Hart
Dr. P. Sheamus Hart

Phone 703-491-4278
Office 12600 Lakeridge Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22192

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Archive for June, 2014

When You Need Immediate Care, We are Here for You

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

At Hart Orthodontics, we know orthodontic emergencies are neither convenient nor timely. If you are a patient of record, Dr. Patrick Hart and our team are more than willing to see you after hours or over the weekend. As a general rule, you should call our Woodbridge, VA office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem. If you have an orthodontic emergency after regular office hours, please give us a call and follow the emergency prompts to contact one of our doctors.

Proper Diet while Undergoing Orthodontics

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Many people undergo orthodontic treatment during childhood, adolescence, and even into adulthood. Wearing orthodontic appliances like braces is sure to produce a beautiful smile. Though orthodontic treatments at Hart Orthodontics are designed to accommodate your lifestyle, chances are you will need to make some dietary modifications to prevent damage to your braces and prolong orthodontic treatment.

The First Few Days with Braces

The first few days wearing braces may be the most restrictive. During this time, the adhesive is still curing, which means you will need to consume only soft foods. This probably will not be a problem, however, as your teeth may be tender or sensitive while adjusting to the appliances.

Orthodontic Dietary Restrictions

You can eat most foods normally the way you did without braces. However, some foods can damage orthodontic appliances or cause them to come loose. Examples of foods you will need to avoid include:

  • Chewy foods like taffy, chewing gum, beef jerky, and bagels
  • Hard foods like peanuts, ice chips, and hard candy
  • Crunchy foods like chips, apples, and carrots

How to Continue to Eat the Foods You Love Most

Keep in mind that you may still be able to enjoy some of the foods you love by making certain modifications to the way you eat them. For example, steaming or roasting carrots makes them softer and easier to consume with braces. Similarly, you can remove corn from the cob, or cut up produce like apples and pears to avoid biting into them. Other tips include grinding nuts into your yogurt or dipping hard cookies into milk to soften them. If you must eat hard candies, simply suck on them instead of biting into them.

If you have any question whether a food is safe to eat during your treatment with Hart Orthodontics, we encourage you to err on the side of caution. Of course, you can always contact our Woodbridge, VA office with any questions you have about your diet and the foods that should be avoided during treatment. By following our dietary instructions and protecting your orthodontic appliances from damage, you will be back to chewing gum in no time.

Who benefits from Invisalign®?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

One problem with trying to answer the question as to who benefits from Invisalign is that the simple answer is “almost everyone.” The see-through, almost invisible aligners for straightening teeth are specifically molded to fit each individual’s mouth. Unlike conventional braces, they can be removed when eating and when cleaning the teeth. Because they use less force in straightening teeth than metal braces, the risk of harm to teeth is lessened.

Benefits to adults

Traditional braces are associated with children and teenagers. Many adults want to have their teeth straightened but cannot decide which is worse: having crooked teeth or wearing metal braces. They also worry about having to change their diet by not being able to eat the foods they normally enjoy.

If you are an adult considering braces, our team at Hart Orthodontics will tell you Invisalign aligners will give you the best of all worlds. Your teeth will be straightened with virtually invisible braces. You can remove your aligners when you eat so you can enjoy any food you normally would consume. You do not have to worry about embarrassing yourself by getting food stuck in your braces. You simply clean your teeth normally after eating and replace your aligners. If there is a special occasion during which you do not want to have any braces at all, you can remove the aligners for a few hours without causing any damage.

Benefits to teenagers

Dr. Patrick Hart and our team know that teenagers are often involved in contact sports or gymnastics. Others find that having metal in their mouth interferes with their ability to play a musical instrument. Traditional metal braces contain wires and brackets that can cause damage to the mouth and gums; this is not a risk with Invisalign aligners.

For sports that require players to wear mouthguards, the expense of specially constructed mouthguards to fit over braces is avoided. The aligners can be removed during sports activity, and a normal mouthguard is worn. Teenagers who play musical instruments simply remove the aligners when practicing or playing in the band or orchestra.

Teenagers often feel they are too busy to spend time and trouble flossing teeth between the wires and brackets of traditional braces. Since the Invisalign aligners are removable, brushing and flossing are simpler and more likely to be performed.

For more information about Invisalign or Invisalign Teen, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Patrick Hart, please give us a call at our convenient Woodbridge, VA office!

Dr. Shea Hart talks about wisdom teeth – part 1!

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Dear Patients and Families of Hart Orthodontics,

I wanted to focus my next blog on a topic frequently addressed in our office: third molars, or wisdom teeth.   The presence of, behavior, and long term management of these teeth is almost always discussed either during the treatment planning and diagnosis presentation, especially when they play a pivotal role in treatment, or during the deband consultation, when future monitoring and/or action is required.  As such, I wanted to present some of the facts to our patients in this two-blog series, so that they may be better able to understand our rationale in the decision to either retain or extract a patient’s wisdom teeth.

wis-1Let’s first discuss the presence of wisdom teeth.   Most individuals possess three sets of molars: first, second, and third, which erupt at approximately six, twelve, and eighteen years, respectively.   Of all the teeth, third molars are the most likely to be congenitally missing, or fail to develop.  Approximately 10-20% of the population is missing at least one third molar, with females being more likely to have missing third molars than males.

The word “impacted” is often utilized to describe wisdom teeth, and for good reason as they are the teeth most likely to experience a form of impaction.  When a clinician describes a tooth as being impacted, he or she is suggesting that the tooth has been prevented from or failed to erupt into its normal, physiologic position.   There are many reasons that this can occur.  Sometimes there’s not enough space in the dental arch to accommodate the tooth or the projected eruption of the tooth is in an abnormal direction or failure to lose the overlying baby tooth and among many others.   Efforts have been made in orthodontic research to find certain characteristics that may indicate the potential for future impaction, particularly of third molars, and we look for these attributes when we examine both initial, progress, and deband orthodontic x-rays.

wis-2The impaction of wisdom teeth is categorized by the position of the tooth within the tissue.  Some teeth are merely impacted by the overlying soft gum tissue and fail to “break through” the tissue during eruption.  Some are fully encased in the bones of the jaw, often requiring a surgical procedure to access.  Some are a combination of the two, with potions of the crown of the tooth still encompassed by the bone but other regions of the crown having projected into or through the soft tissue.  These impactions are termed “Soft Tissue”, “Full Bony”, and “Partial Bony”, respectively.

Let’s now discuss the popular myth that the eruption of wisdom teeth can lead to crowding/recrowding of the lower front teeth.  On many occasions a parent or adult patient will reference the relapse that they’ve had in their lower front teeth.  Understandably so, they attribute the crowding to the eruption of their lower wisdom teeth.  Orthodontic research, however, states otherwise.  There is no conclusive evidence in the years of research that it is the eruption or impaction of the wisdom teeth that influences the relapse, or recrowding of the lower incisors.   I will note that some studies have found a correlation, while others have found none, leading the existing evidence to be inconclusive.

What has been found is that in the absence of an orthodontic retainer, a slight increase in lower teeth crowding occurs as an individual progresses through adolescence and into adulthood, regardless of whether or not they were treated with orthodontics.  This is one of the primary reasons that we place fixed retainers on the lower incisors of all our patients – to limit the crowding that occurs as we age.

Thanks for reading this first blog in our two-part series.  Stay tuned in the weeks to come for part two, which will focus on our rationale for preserving or extracting wisdom teeth.


Dr. Shea

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