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There are good reasons, for both health and appearance, to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant or similar restoration as soon as is practical. The bone around a tooth socket diminishes the longer it remains empty, up to 25% the first year. And, of course, your smile is less attractive, especially with a highly visible tooth.

If it’s your teenager, though, you may need to wait on a permanent restoration because their jaws are still developing. An implant placed before completion of jaw development could eventually appear out of alignment with neighboring teeth.

Our biggest concern is protecting bone health at the site of the missing tooth. We can do this and encourage growth by placing bone grafts (processed minerals from another donor) that serve as scaffolds on which surrounding bone can grow. Grafts usually dissolve (resorb) over time, but the rate of resorption can be slowed for a younger patient in need of long-term bone growth.

Planned orthodontic treatment can usually go on as scheduled. The orthodontist may accommodate the tooth loss by adding a temporary tooth within the braces or other device that matches the color and shape of the patient’s natural teeth. The orthodontist will also take care to maintain the empty space for a future implant or other restoration.

A dental implant is considered the best option for a missing tooth, not only for its life-like appearance and durability, but also its ability to encourage bone maintenance. Timing, though, is essential for teenagers. As it grows, the upper jaw will tend to move forward and down. Natural teeth move with this growth; implants, though, are attached differently and won’t move with the jawbone. While the other teeth around them move, the implants can appear to shrink back resulting in an unattractive smile appearance. So waiting until the jaw has finished growing is important.

For most people, jaw growth finishes by age twenty-one for men, women usually faster, but each person is different. The dentist’s expertise and experience, coupled with comparisons of adult family members’ facial appearances, will help determine the right time to undertake a permanent restoration for the best outcome both for health and a permanent, attractive smile.

If you would like more information on treating teenagers with missing teeth, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”

By Vibrant Smiles Dental
May 22, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: invisalign  

What your dentist in Waldorf wants you to know

If you’ve always wanted orthodontic treatment, but you don’t like how long it takes and don’t like the way metal brackets and wires look, it’s time to think differently about orthodontic treatment. It’s time to think about Invisalign!

Invisalign is the revolutionary way to achieve a straight smile quickly, comfortably, and virtually invisible. So how does Invisalign work? Dr. Michael Owens at Vibrant Smiles Dental in Waldorf, MD, wants to share the facts about Invisalign and how it can help you achieve a smile to be proud of.

Invisalign isn’t like conventional orthodontic treatment. Instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system uses clear plastic trays, called aligners. You receive your first set of aligners, which you wear for two weeks. You move on to another set of aligners which you wear for another two weeks. You progress to a new set of aligners every two weeks as your teeth move into correct position and your treatment is completed.

There are many reasons why both teens and adults love Invisalign. When you choose Invisalign, you can count on:

  • Discreet treatment, because the trays are virtually invisible, straightening your smile without brackets and wires
  • Comfortable treatment, because there are no sharp metal parts to irritate your gums, cheeks, and lips
  • Quick treatment, because your smile will be straightened in as little as nine to fifteen months
  • Healthy treatment, because you can remove the aligners to brush and floss your teeth and eat the foods you love

Invisalign offers many benefits that can’t be matched by brackets and wires, and it can also correct the same problems as conventional orthodontic treatment, including:

  • Overlapped teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Poorly positioned teeth
  • Overbite or underbite
  • Open bite or crossbite

If you’ve procrastinated about straightening your smile because you don’t want to wear metal brackets and wires, Invisalign is the solution custom-made for you! You owe it to yourself to show off a smile that makes you happy, an Invisalign smile! To find out more about how Invisalign works and what it can do for you, call Dr. Owens at Vibrant Smiles Dental in Waldorf, MD, today!

By Vibrant Smiles Dental
May 15, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay   sugar  

We’ve waged war for decades against tooth decay through oral hygiene and the increasing use of fluoride, nature’s “super weapon” against this disease. And yet, tooth decay remains a significant health problem.

One major reason is refined sugar found in many processed foods. In the 1970s researchers raised concerns about the fat content of many processed foods, so manufacturers began removing fat from their products — along with much of the flavor. To compensate, they added sugar. Today, three-quarters of approximately 600,000 food products contain sugar.

This has increased average individual consumption to 90 pounds of sugar annually. The World Health Organization says we should consume no more than 20 pounds annually, or about 6 teaspoons a day. A single can of soda contains 4 teaspoons, two-thirds of the daily allowance.

High sugar consumption is an obvious threat to dental health: decay-causing bacteria thrive on it. But the trend has also been linked to serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

Hopefully, changes in public policy will one day modify the addition of sugar in processed foods. In the meantime, you can take action for yourself and your family to create a more healthy relationship with this popular carbohydrate.

Shop wisely. Learn to read and understand food labels: steer clear of those containing sugar or large numbers of ingredients. Become acquainted with sugar’s many other “names” like corn syrup or evaporated cane juice. And maximize your shopping on a store’s outer perimeters where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products, rather than the middle aisles with “boxed” processed items.

Avoid sugar-added drinks. Limit consumption of sodas, sports drinks, sweet teas or even juice to avoid added sugar. Make water or sugar-free beverages your go-to drinks. It’s much better to eat sugar naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables, where fiber helps slow it’s absorption in the body, than to drink it.

Exercise. Depending on your condition, physical exertion is good for your overall health. It’s especially beneficial for your body’s ability to metabolize sugar. So with your doctor’s advice, exert your body every day.

It’s important to engender a proper relationship with sugar — a little can go a long way. Putting sugar in its rightful place can help you avoid tooth decay and increase your chances of greater overall health.

If you would like more information on sugar’s impact on dental and general health, 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 Bitter Truth About Sugar.”


Mayim Bialik has spent a good part of her life in front of TV cameras: first as the child star of the hit comedy series Blossom, and more recently as Sheldon Cooper’s love interest — a nerdy neuroscientist — on The Big Bang Theory. (In between, she actually earned a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA…but that’s another story.) As a child, Bialik had a serious overbite — but with all her time on camera, braces were just not an option.

“I never had braces,” she recently told Dear Doctor – Dentistry & Oral Health magazine. “I was on TV at the time, and there weren’t a lot of creative solutions for kids who were on TV.” Instead, her orthodontist managed to straighten her teeth using retainers and headgear worn only at night.

Today, there are several virtually invisible options available to fix orthodontic issues — and you don’t have to be a child star to take advantage of them. In fact, both children and adults can benefit from these unobtrusive appliances.

Tooth colored braces are just like traditional metal braces, with one big difference: The brackets attached to teeth are made from a ceramic material that blends in with the natural color of teeth. All that’s visible is the thin archwire that runs horizontally across the teeth — and from a distance it’s hard to notice. Celebs like Tom Cruise and Faith Hill opted for this type of appliance.

Clear aligners are custom-made plastic trays that fit over the teeth. Each one, worn for about two weeks, moves the teeth just a bit; after several months, you’ll see a big change for the better in your smile. Best of all, clear aligners are virtually impossible to notice while you’re wearing them — which you’ll need to do for 22 hours each day. But you can remove them to eat, or for special occasions. Zac Efron and Katherine Heigl, among others, chose to wear clear aligners.

Lingual braces really are invisible. That’s because they go behind your teeth (on the tongue side), where they can’t be seen; otherwise they are similar to traditional metal braces. Lingual braces are placed on teeth differently, and wearing them often takes some getting used to at first. But those trade-offs are worth it for plenty of people. Which celebs wore lingual braces? Rumor has it that the list includes some top models, a well-known pop singer, and at least one British royal.

So what’s the best way to straighten your teeth and keep the orthodontic appliances unnoticeable? Just ask us! We’d be happy to help you choose the option that’s just right for you. You’ll get an individualized evaluation, a solution that fits your lifestyle — and a great-looking smile!

For more information about hard-to-see (or truly invisible) orthodontics, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Orthodontics for the Older Adult” and “Clear Aligners for Teenagers.”

By Vibrant Smiles Dental
April 26, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  

Are your oral hygiene habits what they should be? At Vibrant Smiles in Waldorf, MD, your dentist, Dr. Michael Owens, stresses the oral hygieneimportance of daily brushing, flossing, and healthy eating. After all, you only get one set of teeth and gums, and together, you and your dentist can work to prevent oral health problems for your best possible smile.

What are you taking in?

What you put in your mouth affects your oral health. In other words, dental hygiene is pretty basic. You should brush, floss and eat well. Don't smoke. Drink alcohol in moderation if you're an adult.

You see, preventive dentistry, specifically at-home oral hygiene and in-office prophylactic care, removes bacteria-filled plaque and tartar. This creates a low-acid environment so you're teeth remain decay-free and your gums, pink and healthy.

What are you doing?

The American Dental Association recommends the following practices as part of your daily hygiene routine.

First, brush twice a day for a full two minutes. An electric toothbrush is nice, but the jury is out on just how necessary this tool is, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.

Using your small- to medium-sized soft brush, gently scrub your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Use a back and forth motion with the bristles at a 45-degree angle to your teeth. Cover the chewing and back surfaces, too.

Next, floss using waxed or plain strand floss or interproximal brushes. People with braces or extensive restorations may benefit from a water flosser. Whatever way you decide to go, do it consistently once a day.

Finally, eat well. Reduce your intake of sugary and starchy foods. Avoid tobacco in all forms, and increase these items in your daily diet:

  • Water
  • Calcium (dairy products and dark, leafy veggies are great choices)
  • High fiber cereals, breads, and crackers
  • Fruits and vegetables (the Oral Cancer Foundation says they may reduce the incidence of cancer)
  • Protein (low-fat meats and fish)

What else can help?

Dr. Owens advises oral examinations and hygienic cleanings for all of his patients. Exams reveal decay, gum disease, bite issues and other potentially dangerous problems while they are still very treatable. 
Cleanings remove plaque and tartar, reducing the chances of gum disease and tooth decay. When cleanings are done every six months, tooth enamel stays strong and gum tissue thrives.

Start today

If you think your dental practices could improve, just start now. Brush, floss, eat healthily and come to Vibrant Smiles Dental for a check-up and professional cleaning. Then, you can look forward to years of excellent oral health. Call today for your appointment: (301) 645-5182.

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