Types of Orthodontic Retainers

An orthodontic retainer is an appliance that keeps your teeth in place after treatment with dental braces. For more information about orthodontic retainers, check out this article. In here, we will discuss the different types retainers your dentist may recommend and how each one work.

Removable Orthodontic Retainers

Retainers are classified as either removable or fixed. Which one work better depends on the wants, needs, and compliance of the patient.

Removable retainers are more commonly used. They usually consist of plastic or a combination of wire and acrylic material. The wire may run across the front or back surface of the teeth.

The main advantage of removable retainers is that they much easier to clean, owing to the fact that you can remove them from your teeth whenever you want to.

The disadvantage, however, is that it relies on patient compliance and there’s a chance that some patients won’t wear it as prescribed by their orthodontist. It also gets lost easily, especially you if leave it lying around and wrapped in a tissue. You can have it replaced, but you will have to spend as much as $300 for the new one.

There two most common popular examples of removable retainers are the Hawley and Essix retainers.

Hawley appliance is probably the most common type of retainer you see. It is a combination of acrylic and metal wires.

The wires are formed into clasps, which are then anchored to the acrylic body that sits on the palate. These clasps grasp the teeth to keep the retainer secured in place.

Hawley retainers are adjustable, and can thus be used to further improve the alignment of your teeth.

Essix retainers look pretty much like Invisalign aligners, and are therefore most suitable for those who have had that type of orthodontic treatment.

These retainers are made of clear plastic, and hence cannot be seen when worn. They are constructed by your orthodontist using a mold of your teeth and a vacuum appliance. Unlike Hawley retainers, Essix retainers are non-adjustable.

Fixed Orthodontic Retainers

Fixed retainers, on the other hand, are usually made of a thin wire that runs across the back of the teeth.

It is bonded or cemented in place using the same material applied on your brackets. Compared to removable retainers, fixed retainers are quite more difficult to clean, so special cleaning aids are prescribed to keep the both the retainer and your teeth free from plaque buildup.

But their biggest advantage is that they tend to produce better outcome because they hold your teeth in place 24/7.

In short, patient compliance is not a problem. Another advantage is that since the wire is at the back of the teeth, it will appear like you’re not wearing a retainer at all.

Regardless of the type of orthodontic retainer that you use, it is advised that you do routine dental visits to ensure periodic maintenance of the appliance and also to check if your retainer is working or you need another one.

Orthodontic Retainers: FAQs

If you have or have had dental braces, then like many people, one of the things that you very much look forward to is that day when your dentist finally gets them off. So you come to your dentist’s clinic for your de-bonding appointment and just like that, your teeth are perfect.

But before you can celebrate, you dentist suddenly ruins your perfectly happy moment by saying that you need to put on your retainers now.

Yes, we know the feeling, but don’t get disappointed yet because it is for your own good. Learn more about orthodontic retainers and how they can help your now perfect teeth stay that way.

What are Orthodontic Retainers?

Simply put, an orthodontic retainer, as its name suggests, is custom-made appliance that retains your teeth to their new position after the removal of your dental braces. There are different types of retainers, and you can learn more about them in this article.

Why would I need an Orthodontic Retainer?

Having your braces off doesn’t mean that the whole process of tooth movement is done. The forces that moved your teeth into their perfect alignment will take some time to stop.

If you don’t use retainers, then these forces will continue moving your teeth even after the braces are removed, causing them to be misaligned again.

Also, it may take a while for supporting structures (i.e. bone and periodontal ligament) to remember the new position of your teeth and adapt to other changes.

How do Orthodontic Retainers work?

Retainers prevent further tooth movement basically by acting as “brake” which stops the forces cause the movement. They signal the tooth roots to stay in place, which thereby preserve the correct alignment created by your dental braces.

How long do I have to wear an Orthodontic Retainer?

Orthodontists recommend wearing a retainer for at least six months after the removal of your dental braces. You must wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist say especially during the first six months. This period is very critical because it is when tooth movement is still active.

Depending on the case, some patients are even required to wear their retainers for life after the critical period. But don’t worry, if you happen be one of them, you would only need to wear them at night.  You can walk around and spend your entire daytime without your retainers.

 How do I take care of my Orthodontic Retainer?

Your retainers should be cleaned every night by rinsing it with warm water, or with cleaners that are especially formulated for retainers. Denture cleaners also work. Some retainers can also be cleaned by brushing them using a soft-bristled toothbrush and tiny amount of toothpaste – ask your orthodontist if your retainer is suitable for this method.

If you wear your retainer 24/7, be sure to clean it every now and then to prevent bacterial buildup.

Wearing your retainers is a must, especially if you wouldn’t want your teeth to go back to their pre-treatment state. Majority of adults who need orthodontic treatment are actually patients whose condition has relapsed because they did not wear their retainers.

Always follow your orthodontist’s recommendations to make sure that all the time and resources you’ve spent for your orthodontic treatment will all be worth it.

5 Health Problems That Can Be Solved by Orthodontics

Most people think that dental braces and other forms of orthodontic treatment only work to fix and improve one’s smile. No one can blame them – after all, it is a dental treatment. But there are actually some medical problems that can be addressed by having your teeth straightened by those wires and brackets. Find out the most common health problems that can be alleviated by orthodontic treatment.

Temporomandibular Joint Problems

The temporomandibular joint, or simply TMJ, pertains the joint connecting your lower jaw to the rest of the head. A patient who suffers from malocclusion or wrong bite can also experience TMJ problems because the wrong relationship of the upper and lower teeth can also cause the misalignment of the jaw.

This is manifested by pain in the jaw and around the ear area, and discomfort when chewing. Orthodontic treatment like dental braces which help put the teeth into their proper alignment, in turn, can help correct jaw alignment as well. This helps get rid of all the negative symptoms mentioned.

Headaches and Neck Pain

The head and neck area consists of a complex, yet delicate network of bones, joints, muscles, and tendons that have to work together in harmony for optimum function. And any imbalance in this network results to chronic headaches and neck pain.

If you experience reoccurring pain in the head and neck area that doesn’t seem to go away with your OTC pain meds warrant a visit to a specialist. Your dentist and/or orthodontist are some of the specialists you must consider especially if the pain is originating from behind the eyes, on the temple, or at the back of the head. You dentist or orthodontist will help determine if the pain is related to your teeth and orthodontic treatment could be the answer.

Sleep Disorders

Difficulty sleeping may result from both TMJ problems and pain in the head and neck. If you jaws are misaligned, chances are, you’ll have trouble sleeping due to breathing problems. If left untreated, the breathing problem may get worse over time. By correcting the alignment of the teeth, breathing will improve, giving you longer and more restful sleep.

Heart Problems

Individuals with malocclusion often have crowded teeth that make oral hygiene a bit of a challenge. If you can’t clean your teeth well, the inability to adequately remove plaque deposits can result to gum disease, starting with gingivitis.

Over time, unmanaged gingivitis can advance to a more severe form of gum disease – periodontitis. Numerous studies have proven the link between periodontitis and heart problems.

Having your teeth in their proper alignment will make cleaning them much easier and, in the process, prevent periodontal disease and heart problems.

If you have any of the health issues above, one probable solution would be visiting your dentist or orthodontist to determine if it is your teeth that’s causing your malady. Your dentist or orthodontist can devise a treatment plan that will help alleviate these problems.

Interesting Facts About Dental Sealants

In the past few years, more and more individuals are starting to realize the importance of getting dental sealants on their teeth.

A dental sealant is a barrier placed on tooth surfaces that are most susceptible to decay.

These include, most especially, the biting surface of the molars, which has lots of small grooves where bacteria can accumulate and cause destruction.

If you wonder what dental sealants are, here are some basic (and interesting) facts about sealants and how they can help protect the teeth.

Dental sealants protect the teeth from cavities

Even if you brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day, it doesn’t mean that you are safe from developing cavities.

It’s simply because the bristles of your toothbrush don’t reach the small pits and grooves on your teeth, making them an ideal niche for bacteria to grow, multiply, and wreak havoc.

Dental sealants help solve this problem by covering these small grooves with a tooth-colored plastic material. This blocks the accumulation of bacteria and in turn, their ability to attack and destroy the tooth enamel.

Dental sealants are suitable for any age

Contrary to what many people believe, dental sealants are not only for children.

While it is true that they are done mostly in children, sealants are actually are suitable for any age because the permanent teeth of older patients are also riddled with small grooves that need to be covered.

Dental sealants are quick and painless to apply

Applying dental sealants is much faster compared to putting restorations, be it complex or simple restorations.

The procedure is also absolutely pain-free, making it a very suitable procedure even for very young children.

Unlike restorations where the dentist has to use a dental drill to remove tooth structure, sealants only require cleaning and drying of the tooth surface so that the material will stick tightly to it. The entire procedure will only take a couple of minutes.

Dental sealants last long

Dental sealants can last for years depending on the patient’s oral hygiene practices and eating habits.

But then again, this extra layer of protection should not make you think that going to the dentist is not needed anymore.

In fact, you still have to do regular visits so your dentist can check if your sealants are still intact or if they need to be replaced already.

Dental sealants will help you save money

In addition to being absolutely fast and painless, dental sealants are also much cheaper than restorations. And the best thing is, most dental insurance companies include sealants in the list of treatments they cover.

Why spend on expensive tooth fillings when you can prevent the need for them in the first place – at a fraction of the cost!

While sealants can indeed do a great job in protecting your teeth, getting one should not make you forget that good oral hygiene practices, regular dental visits, and healthy are also critical in maintaining the health of your teeth and oral cavity.

5 Biggest Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Do you find yourself wincing every time you eat your ice-cold treat? Or perhaps when you brush or floss your teeth?

You could be experiencing tooth sensitivity. You don’t have to worry, though, as there are lots of things you can do to lessen this discomfort.

Among them is knowing what the most common causes are, so you can avoid them and prevent tooth sensitivity from occurring in the first place.

Vigorous Toothbrushing

Toothbrushing is good for your oral health, but doing it with too much gusto can actually be harmful to your teeth.

Vigorous brushing can wear down the tooth enamel and expose the dentin underneath it. The dentin consists of small tubules that connect directly to the pulp, which contains nerves.

When these tubules are exposed to extreme heat or cold, the nerves are stimulated resulting to tooth sensitivity. To avoid thinning out your enamel, brush more gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Acidic Foods

Acidic foods can also wear down the tooth enamel just like vigorous brushing does.

The only difference between the two is that acids cause chemical dissolution, while brushing causes mechanical wearing.

You don’t have to stay away from these foods. Instead, you can just rinse your mouth with water right after eating any acidic food to wash away the acids and limit their contact with your teeth. And be sure to wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

The dissolution caused by the acid plus the mechanical action of your brush will only make the problem even worse.

Bruxism

Again, even though the enamel is the hardest and strongest substance in the body, it can easily be worn down by various mechanical factors.

One is vigorous brushing, and another is by bruxism or tooth grinding. It causes sensitivity in the same way as the first two.

To solve this oral habit, consult your dentist for recommendations and fabrication of a protective mouth-guard that you can use at night.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, caused by excessive accumulation of plaque on tooth surface, lead to gum recession and exposure of the tooth roots.

Unlike your tooth crown which has hard, strong enamel to protect it, the cementum covering the tooth root is softer and therefore more prone to dissolution and mechanical wear.

In such case, your dentist will manage the underlying problem first then prescribe something that will help seal your teeth.

Dental Treatment

It is not uncommon to experience some sensitivity after undergoing certain dental procedures. These include professional cleaning, placement of restorations, root canal treatment, or even extraction.

The sensitivity induced by these procedures can last for a couple of days and should not be a cause of concern because it will go away on its own.

However, if the symptom persists and/or gets worse, contact your dentist immediately. Only your dentist will know what to do and give the best advice for your particular situation.

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Top 5 Home Remedies for Toothache

Your teeth may be small in size, but when they hurt the pain can practically put you on your knees.

If you have a persistent toothache or any other dental health problem, the best solution is to go to your dentist for treatment.

However, if you can’t do that right away, here are some of the best home remedies that many individuals swear by.

Clove Oil

Clove oil is one of the oldest home remedies, and it is for one good reason – it is very effective.

It contains eugenol, which is popular not just for its natural numbing effects but for its antibacterial properties as well.

Mix ¼ teaspoon olive oil and three drops of clove oil, and dip a small piece of cotton in it. Put the cotton on the tooth that hurts then keep it in place by biting it down.

Allow it to remain for a couple of minutes, or until the pain subsides. Take note, though, that clove oil must be used carefully as it can make the pain worse if use improperly.

Although the FDA no longer recommends clove oil, there are dentists and other oral healthcare professionals who still believe in this remedy. Clove oil can easily be bought in drug stores and health food stores.

Salt Water

Warm salt water is effective not only for toothache, but for sore throat as well, thanks to its pain-killing and antibacterial effects.

To make a salt water mouthrinse, put a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Swish the solution around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.

Aside from its aforementioned effects, salt water washes away debris and thus cleans the area while also drawing out some fluid from the swollen tissues. You may perform this remedy as often as necessary.

Tea Bags

After making a delightful cup of tea, don’t throw the used tea bag just yet.

A hot tea bag may be the perfect solution next time you have a toothache. All you have to do is apply the tea bag directly to the tooth.

Tea is rich in tannic acid that can help decrease swelling, and thus relieve pain. For best results, opt for peppermint tea.

Aside from its nice and refreshing flavor, it is also the most effective when it comes to providing that numbing effect not just for toothache but for headache as well.

You may also swish the tea itself in your mouth for more soothing effect. If peppermint flavor is “not your cup of tea,” black tea can be just as effective.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide in 3% solution is also helpful in providing temporary relief from toothache, particularly if the pain is accompanied by symptoms such as fever and bad taste in the mouth.

Mix equal amounts of warm water and hydrogen peroxide in a glass.

Rinse your mouth with the solution for about 30 seconds then spit it out. You may rinse your mouth with more water, if desired.

Ice Cubes

If for some reason you don’t have any of the remedies above, then you can always go back to basics and use some ice cubes instead.

It is a very simple, yet effective solution to toothache. You can put it directly on the area of the involved tooth or teeth, or massage it over your hands and fingers.

The second method is rather folkloric, but it actually works. The explanation is that the cold sensation travels faster to the brain than pain does, basically overriding the signals coming from the tooth.

Take note that while these home remedies do work, they are not permanent solutions that can get rid of your toothache for good. You still need a definitive treatment that only a trained dental professional can provide.