Category Archives: Medical Procedures

kid with braces

Which Braces are Best for You?

Braces have been used to straighten teeth since the early 1800s. The desire for straight teeth actually goes back to Egyptian times. In modern days, there have been many changes in these image-chasing tools. Just in the last fifty years, braces have gone from somewhat medieval torture devices, to barely seen smile straighteners. This is the biggest improvement in recent years – the ability to have braces straighten the teeth, but not be noticeable during the process.

Years ago in orthodontics, there was the type where a metal band encircled each and every tooth, and the bracket was attached to each band. By the time I had braces, starting at about age 10, I had the kind with the brackets cemented onto the teeth. Each back tooth still had a metal band which served as an anchor for the metal wire that would go across the brackets. Even having only the four metal bands makes me cringe, thinking about how they install those bands down over the teeth.

These types of metal braces can generally do the job quicker than the newer iterations of shifting teeth, which is a plus – the sooner the better. But there are downsides – because they move the teeth quicker, there is more pain over the course of treatment. Also, food often gets caught in the metal bracket/wire. Corn on the cob and other things have to be sliced so you can eat them, and the protruding metal on the brackets tears up the inside of the mouth for the first days. And then on a mortifying note, the grills of the braces can get entangled with someone else’s grills while kissing.

The bracket-type braces evolved to replace metal brackets with ceramic brackets that came in either clear or a white like the teeth, which made the braces less obvious, at least. Other mouth appliances used in conjunction with traditional braces: the tiny rubber bands attached to brackets to make the smaller adjustments. Then there is the retainer which is a wire bent to go around the front of the teeth to keep them in place. The wire is attached to a piece of plastic which is custom-shaped to fit the roof of the mouth. They’re custom-made so they’re expensive to replace when they are (often) lost. And then there is the embarrassment-inducing headgear, a rounded metal wire worn around the face with an inner bracket that attaches to the upper back teeth and attached to an elastic band holding the wire in place from the back of the head.

Another type of braces is lingual braces. They’re just like the traditional braces in that they are composed of the wire and bracket configuration. But these braces are installed on the backside of the teeth. Their advantage is that you can’t see them, so nobody knows the wearer has them. But it would take some time to get used to the ever-curious tongue rubbing against all those little metal squares and wires. Lingual braces also cost more than traditional braces, and they take longer to adjust because of how they’re built.

There are several types of braces that are referred to as self-ligating. Self-ligating means that instead of employing the small rubber bands to adjust the teeth, there are adjustable clips attached to the brackets, so there is less force in moving the teeth, and therefore less pain is caused by the adjustments. There is a version of metal braces that have heat-activated wires. These wires use body heat for a gradual movement, rather than having adjustments every two months or so, which causes pain for the first few days from the new adjustment.

Invisalign braces are the modern version of braces. There is nothing attached to the teeth to move them. The orthodontist is able to set up the measurements on their computer so that you can see the end result. Then an initial mold of the teeth is made, and the aligners are made in a series to adjust toward the desired result. Each aligner piece is worn in the mouth for two weeks and then replaced with the next step towards the end goal. Aligners are a more gradual method of moving the teeth, so they are less painful than traditional metal braces. They are definitely the least conspicuous form of orthodontic adjustment thus far. Other pluses include the ability to take the aligner out for cleaning and it’s virtually like not wearing braces. But aligners are not for more complex cases, and they are more expensive than other types of braces.

For the most part, it’s easier to choose between the traditional metal-on-metal types of braces compared to the less conspicuous and gentler form of tooth movement. But if you are not able to afford the aligners and/or you want your teeth to be moved more quickly, maybe the metal braces would be best for you. Luckily, the modern version of metal braces has smaller brackets. But it is good that there are so many ways to make a smile brighter, outside and in.

When is the Best Time to Get Braces?

At some point, many people are faced with the fact that they need braces. Braces have many purposes for dental health, a major one being to correct jagged, misaligned, or overlapped teeth. Braces can also correct overbites or underbites. Dentists will refer to this simply as a “bad bite,” but the official name of the condition is called malocclusion. An overbite is when the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw, and an underbite is when the lower jaw is bigger than the upper jaw. Patients typically wear braces for about 2 years, though the time frame ultimately depends on the patient.

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

Massage therapy is one of the many beneficial therapeutic options you can choose from at a spa or a practice that specializes in massage and aroma therapy. People who get massages for their first time realize the effects immediately, and then they start to question how often a person should actually receive a massage. It’s a great question, as massages are healthy and beneficial for your muscles.

The Road to Surgery

General surgery is defined by the American Board of Surgery as “a discipline that requires knowledge of and familiarity with a broad spectrum of diseases that may require surgical treatment.” Because it is of an all-encompassing nature, general surgery requires that surgeons have a vast knowledge of the body’s systems, ailments, and the surgical techniques that will correct them. We’ve researched general surgery residency at some of the most prestigious schools of medicine in the country. Here’s a look at what it takes to become a general surgeon in the United States today.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Is Laser Spine Surgery an Option?

As we age, our bones start to weaken and we tend to experience more pain in the back and neck areas. Vertebral fractures and other disc-related problems start to appear, especially for people over the age of 35. Back pain and injury is also attributed to the kind of lifestyle we live. For example, frequent lifting of heavy items can lead to spine problems. All of these back-related symptoms are indicative of the degenerative disc disease.

Hands-Free Wheelchairs Get New Technology

Scientists and students from Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Northwestern University have published a study that details a new technology they’ve developed that allows paralyzed wheelchair users to control movements using a magnetic tongue stud.

Laser Spine Surgery – An Option For Scoliosis Sufferers?

People who suffer from scoliosis typically don’t notice it until it’s too late. Unfortunately, the spinal curvature can be pretty severe before people realize what’s going on. Aside from a noticeable spinal curve, people with scoliosis may notice that their shoulders and hips are uneven. Untreated, the spine may begin to twist as well causing severe back pain and problems with breathing.

A history of limited options

In the past those who suffered from S or C shaped spinal curvatures didn’t have much of a choice with their treatment options. The go to procedure was an open spine fusion surgery. This is and was a complex procedure which involved large incisions (and the resultant scars) , removal of substantial portions of the spine and replacing it with cumbersome (and bulky) devices. This procedure is intensive and the recovery for patients was long and difficult. Unfortunately, the choice for patients was essentially between further discomfort and deteriorating health or the fusion surgery.

An Overview of Vaccines

A few days ago, a friend kindly broke my long writer’s block (so many subjects, so little time), with a question about vaccines. She had heard a radio ad for a study in which a new AIDS vaccine candidate would be tested. The ad stated that the vaccine was perfectly safe. Is that possible, she inquired? While I can’t speak to that particular vaccine in question, I thought I’d provide a dose of my knowledge on the kinds of vaccines and how they might (or might not) be safe, effective, useful, and so on.

Vaccines are a rapidly expanding field of the medical world, and there are many family practice jobs like the ones from Leap Doctor and research jobs available specifically in vaccine study. Most of us have a working definition of vaccine: that shot they give you so you don’t get sick. This is a good generalization for the everyday person. Of course, vaccines can be given orally (polio), nasally (mostly experimental), by gene gun (also experimental), as well as via injection. And there’s different types of injection from the “stab-and-jab” of the subcutaneous (aka: anywhere under the skin) injection, to the more carefully poked intravenous (aka: into the blood) injection. Beyond that, vaccines are indeed supposed to prevent illness, in essence, by giving you a little bit of what could ail you in an attempt to get your body on the permanent alert.