Midline Misalignment

May 11th, 2022

By and large, the human body is a marvel of symmetry. But, of course, no one is perfect. You might have noticed one ear is a bit higher than the other. That you wear a shoe a half-size bigger on your left foot. That one shirtsleeve always looks longer.

Or that your smile looks off-center. This dental asymmetry could be caused by a condition known as “midline misalignment,” and, unlike that left foot, you can do something about it!

The dividing line between our center teeth, upper and lower, is called the midline. If we draw an imaginary line down the middle of a face, from the forehead to the nose to the midpoint of the chin, that line should go right between the front teeth. When it doesn’t, because the teeth have shifted past the midpoint, it’s often due to a condition called midline misalignment.

This kind of misalignment, also known as a deviated midline, can have several causes:

  • Baby teeth that are lost too early

Baby teeth do more than promote healthy eating and speech development. They also reserve space for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, permanent teeth might “drift” to fill the empty space, causing the midline to move as well.

  • Thumb sucking that goes on too long

As a child gets older, and certainly when by the time permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking can lead to numerous orthodontic problems, including a deviated midline, as the teeth shift in response to that continuous pressure.

  • Missing adult teeth

When you lose a tooth through decay or trauma, or when an adult tooth simply never develops, the remaining teeth can shift over to fill the open spot.

  • Spacing issues

Crowded teeth, teeth with significant gaps between them, very large teeth, very small teeth—all of these issues can affect spacing and midline alignment.

  • Crossbite

A crossbite is a kind of malocclusion, or bite problem. When you have a crossbite, the teeth don’t fit together properly, with upper teeth fitting inside lower teeth, instead of aligning on the outside where they belong. A deviated midline can indicate a posterior crossbite, where the top back teeth slant inwards or fit inside the bottom back teeth.

A tiny bit of midline shift one way or the other might be nothing to worry about, but if one front tooth is literally the center of attention, or if your teeth are noticeably out of alignment, it’s a good idea to talk to our Harlingen, Brownsville, or Weslaco orthodontic team.

Because there are several potential causes for midline misalignment, Dr. Shepard will carefully analyze your individual situation to determine where the problem lies: with the teeth, the bite, or, rarely, the jaw itself.

Dr. Shepard will also offer you your best dental treatment options. A shift of a few millimeters might be treated with clear aligners or traditional braces. A crossbite could require braces or aligners coupled with elastics (rubber bands) to bring your bite into alignment. A palatal expander can help correct a serious crossbite.

Why visit Shepard Smiles because of a little asymmetry? Because a deviated midline is more than a cosmetic concern. If you have a malocclusion to begin with, or if your misalignment leads to changes in chewing habits, which cause new bite problems, you might be facing jaw pain, chipped and cracked teeth, headaches, and all the other unpleasant consequences of malocclusion.

By and large, perfect symmetry in life is unattainable. But if you want a smile that is well-balanced and healthy, talk to us about all the treatments available to make sure your smile—and not a single tooth—is the center of attention.

Wishing all our moms a happy Mother’s Day!

May 4th, 2022

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." - Robert Browning

We would like to take this moment to thank all the great moms out there for being so great during their child’s visits to Shepard Smiles. Whether it’s driving their kids to regularly scheduled appointments or for “being there” while their child is treatment, the moms who come to our office are all stellar individuals, so Dr. Shepard and our entire staff would like you to know that we appreciate you all!

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy your special day!

How do I know if I need braces?

April 27th, 2022

Perhaps you feel your teeth are not perfectly straight, or you think your bite could be adjusted. It’s quite possible that braces and other orthodontic treatments might be the right choice for you. As orthodontic professionals, our team at Shepard Smiles works with your general dentist in order to determine the best options for your oral health and cosmetic appearance.

You might need braces if ...

  • You lost your baby teeth relatively early in life. If your baby teeth fell out too early and your adult teeth did not come in for a while, this could have affected the way your adult teeth grew and developed.
  • Your teeth look crowded or crooked. If you are embarrassed to smile because your teeth are not straight, it might be time to consider the cosmetic options available to you.
  • Your jaw shifts or makes sounds. This can signify a developmental issue with your teeth and your jaw line, and orthodontic treatment may be able to help. Set up an appointment with Dr. Shepard if your jaw is recessed or protruding as well.
  • You are constantly biting the sides of your cheek or hitting the roof of your mouth. This could indicate that your teeth are not properly aligned. Braces can address an underbite or an overbite.
  • You have a difficult time chewing your food. This is not only an inconvenience, but it can also be detrimental for your health. Braces can help fix the alignment of your teeth.
  • You have to breathe through your mouth on a regular basis. You may not attribute this to an issue with the development of your teeth or jaw, but orthodontic treatment might be able to help.

The ideal age for a child to be seen by an orthodontist is age seven. However, there are many orthodontic treatment options available to adults. It is becoming increasingly common for adults to wear braces and other orthodontic devices. We recommend that people who are interested in braces and other orthodontic treatment options set up a consultation appointment with Dr. Shepard today.

Earth Day

April 20th, 2022

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. He envisioned an Earth Day that would be a kind of environmental teach-in. The first Earth Day celebration took place on April 22, 1970, and a surprising 20 million people participated on that day. Ultimately, it became the largest organized celebration in US history.

Earth Day Over the Years

Over the years, the recognition of the day, and the number of people celebrating it all over the world, turned Earth Day into an international celebration. Because it is celebrated throughout the world, it is not only the largest international environmental observation, but it is also more widely celebrated than any other environmental event in the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries where over 500 million people participate in celebrations.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement is credited with developing the idea that people should “think green”. It encouraged congress to enact laws, including one that resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also inspired the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

The Five R's and Their Importance

  • Reduce – Reduce by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Reduce your use of materials that wind up in landfills. Reduce the use of chemicals around your house. Reduce your use of disposable bags, plates, cups, eating utensils, and batteries.
  • Reuse – Instead of using plastic bags for your groceries or purchases, bring your own reusable bags. When you go to buy coffee at Starbucks, take a travel mug so you don't have to get your coffee in a disposable paper cup. Instead of storing food in disposable refrigerator containers, buy containers that can be washed and reused. Don't use regular batteries. Whenever possible, opt for rechargeable batteries that you can reuse.
  • Recycle – Most cities offer a recycling program to collect used bottles, cans, and newspapers. Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers and manufacturing raw materials into new products.
  • Re-buy – Make an effort to purchase things that are made through recycling. When purchasing furniture, look for items that are made from reclaimed wood. When buying paper for kids school work, computer printer paper, holiday cards, or anything else, make a point of purchasing recycled paper products. Instead of buying clothing at full retail price, shop for second hand clothing. You will save a lot of money by doing so!
  • Rethink – Rethink the way you do things so that you do them in an eco-conscious way at all times. Instead of driving to work alone, consider taking the bus or going in a carpool. Walk or ride your bike when you're only going a short distance. Plan your shopping trips and errand runs so that you can do everything on one day, and do it in a way where you can save time and gas.

Other ways to "think green" include growing your own food, composting yard waste and food scraps, or by participating in local recycling programs. Join a group like Freecycle so you can share your unneeded and unwanted possessions with people who can use them. Likewise, you'll be able to get things you need or want for free.

Earth Day teaches people that the planet belongs to everyone, so everyone is equally responsible for protecting it. Although Earth Day is an environmental celebration, our team at Shepard Smiles wants to remind you that you don't have to wait until then to make changes that will allow you and your family to live a greener life.

Happy Earth Day from the team at Shepard Smiles.