Replace Retainer

How Long Do Retainers Last?

Your braces may be history, but retainers are forever. Sorry if you weren’t aware of this fact, but it’s true. If you’ve had orthodontic treatment, you should wear a retainer not just after your braces are removed but for the rest of your life.

Indeed, the most important time to wear a retainer is immediately after orthodontic treatment is completed, because the bone in your jaws needs some time to solidify around the new position of your teeth. But even when your braces are a distant memory, your teeth can still shift. A retainer is important to make sure your orthodontic work keeps your teeth in place. In other words, retainers “retain” the position.

So when you first begin wearing a retainer, you should wear it pretty much consistently over six months, and then you can gradually decrease usage. Once your teeth have settled into place, wearing a retainer while you sleep 3 to 5 times a week should be enough. But like toothbrushes, a retainer won’t last forever. How often do you need to replace them? That will depend on a variety of things, including what type of retainer you have.

Bonded retainers

A bonded retainer is a type of permanent retainer, in that it is essentially a wire that’s bonded to the back of your teeth. The glue that bonds the wire can wear out with the everyday activity your mouth experiences—eating, talking, brushing and flossing. A bonded retainer on your upper teeth may last up to three years, while a lower bonded retainer will last longer, as this part of the mouth doesn’t see as much activity.

Even if it’s been a short time since the retainers’ installation, the wires can become unbonded to the teeth without you realizing it. Ask your dentist during your regular dental checkups if anything’s amiss.

One problem with bonded retainers is that you can have a harder time cleaning your teeth, and sometimes things can happen that result in pain. You may also grow tired of wires being permanently in your mouth. At some point when you’re years out of braces, you may ask your orthodontist to remove your bonded retainers and switch to removable ones.

Removable retainers

There are two main types of removable retainers, Hawley and Essix. Hawley retainers have an acrylic part that fits snugly to the roof of your mouth or behind your teeth, and from this base wires protrude and wrap around the front of your teeth. Meanwhile, Essix retainers are single pieces of clear molded plastic that fit directly over your teeth.

Both types of retainers can wear out and get yucky. The Hawley wires may break off at the points of attachment to the tray. Fore Essix, hot water can distort the shape, and through wear and tear, it can come to pass that the retainers just don’t fit well after a while.

Essix retainers can last from six months to a few years. Hawley retainers will typically last longer, maybe five to ten years.

Invisalign also makes a line of retainers called Vivera which are similar to the Essix but are more customized to each patient’s individual bite. These are sold through a subscription service so you know you’ll always have a fresh one at hand.

Whatever retainer you end up using, be sure to have a dental professional check them now and then so you can be sure that your beautiful smile is always “retained.”

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The Benefits of Braces Beyond Straight Teeth

In our field, orthodontists focus on the tangible aspects of patients’ smiles. Our specialty concerns straightening misaligned teeth and correcting malocclusions (incorrect bites). We look at the physical aspects of these problems and the physical solutions to them.

At the same time, we are aware of the psychological impact of what we do for our patients. Even though orthodontics improves oral health, it also improves mental health and well-being in a number of ways:

Self-confidence

We’ve begun working with patients with crooked teeth who are clearly shy about how they look. They tell us they try not to show their teeth when they smile for photos, and sometimes they cover their mouths with their hands when they talk. It’s so wonderful when they’re done with treatment to see how their attitude has improved. But these benefits are not just anecdotal. According to studies, young people after orthodontic treatment have shown higher emotional and social well-being than their peers who never had treatment.

Social acceptance

Orthodontics make people’s smiles more attractive, and it’s human nature to respond positively to attractiveness.  Beyond that, braces can help in other ways. For example, crooked teeth can trap food in hard-to-reach places and result in bad breath, so straight teeth can eliminate other issues that may impact someone’s ease in social settings.

Less frustration

If you have or once had a misaligned bite, you know that malocclusions can make the everyday functioning of your mouth annoying. When your teeth don’t meet up as they should, it can be hard to bite into food, and you might have to compensate by biting with other parts of your mouth. Or your misaligned teeth may cause a speech impediment. It’s also harder and more time consuming to clean crooked teeth as opposed to straight ones.

Improved concentration

The benefit of improved concentration is primarily for those patients whose dental problems are not just annoying but are in fact painful. Jutting teeth can sometimes stick into the insides of cheeks or scrape against the tongue, and the pain can be even worse when the problems result in ongoing blisters or bleeding. Chronic pain can be very distracting. Orthodontic treatment takes care of it.

More maturity

When you’re a baby or toddler, you live in the now and have little awareness of the benefits of delayed gratification. This awareness of course improves as people get older, but teenagers’ decisions still tend to be short sighted, according to child development experts. The process of getting orthodontic treatment and the very tangible rewards at the end help exhibit firsthand the benefits of delayed gratification.

So while orthodontists may not have expertise in psychology or counseling, they still can have quite a bit of influence on their patients’ emotional happiness.

 

 

Three Ways to Protect Your Braces When Playing Sports

Getting braces from Dr. Cauble doesn’t mean you have to give up your athletic activities, but it does mean you need to be a little more careful about them. A hard hit in a football game can lead to a popped-off bracket, a cut wire, and damage to your teeth or the inside of your mouth. And a really hard hit can dislodge a tooth or two. Even an impact in a less intense sport than football—say baseball, softball or even tennis—can harm your braces and your mouth.

If you play sports, you should look into these three ways to protect your braces and your mouth:

Full-Facial Guard

A full-facial guard is the hard plastic piece that juts out in front of the mouth on football, hockey, and lacrosse helmets. If you wear braces, be sure to wear a helmet when you play rough contact sports (and even if you don’t wear braces, wearing a helmet provides general head safety). While a full-facial guard will protect your mouth from external impact, collisions and tackles can still cut the inside of your mouth or damage braces.

Mouth Guards

Mouth guards are made to absorb and disperse the shocks that come from collisions with other players, balls hitting your face, and falls to the ground. They are worn inside your mouth to fit directly over your upper teeth, and you can find some dual-arch models that are designed to fit over your lower teeth as well. There are many different types of mouth guards available at just about any sporting goods store. They should be used for sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, and volleyball. They are also a good idea for non-contact sports like gymnastics, biking, and skateboarding where a fall can still harm your mouth.

Make sure your mouth guard fits well, is comfortable and allows you to breathe. We don’t recommend the “boil-and-bite” type for our patients that wear braces, because these mouth guards can stick to brackets and pull them off when removed. Ask us during your next visit for specific advice about what mouth guard we recommend for your particular sport or to judge how well a recent purchase fits.

Dental Silicone or Wax

Dental silicone comes in long strips that you cut to size and press into your braces. A good brand is OrthoSil Silicone Dental “Wax” (which is not really made of wax). Dental silicone is a great way to supplement protection when you’re wearing a helmet with a full-facial guard. You can use the strips to protect the inside of your mouth during other athletic activities where an impact can cut your mouth or damage your braces. Depending on your preferences, you might favor actual dental wax or a product called Gishy Goo.