Your Retainer and Beyond

Last month in our blog, we talked about the importance of retainers when it comes to keeping your teeth straight after having braces or Invisalign. We wanted to dig into this topic a bit deeper because we really cannot stress enough, the importance of retainers. Additionally, you should know that at Melbourne Orthodontics, there are other dental issues that can be corrected with just a retainer — all by itself!

The Main Use of Retainers: Keeping Teeth Straight

Braces are by far the most common orthodontic treatment method in America. Approximately 1.1 million adults are fitted for braces every year. Additionally, about four times as many patients are fitted that are under the age of 18. About 25 percent of all braces patients will have to receive the treatment a second time later in life.

Why? Because they did not follow their orthodontist’s instructions about wearing their retainers!

A majority of patients who receive braces are children and teens who are still growing. As the body grows, their teeth are going to shift no matter what. The retainer is what holds the teeth in their proper (straight) locations. And the teeth are even more likely to shift after they’ve been adjusted with braces.

The lesson: Whether your teeth have been straightened with traditional braces, Invisalign, or invisible braces, wearing your retainer is what will keep them straight for a lifetime.

Other Retainer Uses

There are far more retainers in use than there are patients with braces. That’s because a retainer is an important orthodontic tool that has several uses beyond braces or Invisalign. Here’s a look at some of those uses:

Shifting One or Two Teeth

What happens if a patient has a small gap between their front teeth or just has a single crooked tooth, while the rest of their teeth are straight? It might not make sense to run a full treatment with braces. For many patients, a retainer can be used to close a space between teeth. Additionally, a retainer can be used to shift that one wayward tooth into the proper alignment — no braces required!

A child might have to wear a retainer for several years to make an adjustment like this. The goal is accomplished, however, without the more expensive treatment option of braces being needed.

Preventing Tongue Thrust

Retainers can be used to correct a medical condition called a tongue thrust. This happens when the tongue pokes out between a gap in the teeth. A tongue thrust can cause a lisp or other speech problems.

A specialized retainer called a “crib” is used to keep the tongue pressing against the roof of the mouth, instead of sneaking between the teeth. The crib retainer is worn until the tongue “learns” the proper way to align in the mouth for speech.

Tooth Grinding

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding your teeth. When a person grinds their teeth at night while they are asleep, it can cause damage to the enamel, tooth shifting, and other problems. For patients trying to prevent tooth grinding, a Melbourne or Indian Harbour orthodontist may prescribe a retainer that can be worn at night. The retainer prevents the teeth from making contact while the person is asleep.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Otherwise known as a “bite” misalignment (malocclusion), TMD is a condition that can result when a person’s upper and lower teeth don’t line up properly. This can cause bruxism and other issues, such as straining the neck and jaw muscles which in turn leads to jaw pain or headaches. A retainer can help prevent problems from TMD.

Getting Fitted for a Retainer

Getting properly fitted for a retainer is quick and painless at Melbourne Orthodontics. At our office, you will simply bite down on a mold to get an imprint of your teeth. The retainer is then fashioned in a dental laboratory. In a second appointment, your Melbourne or Indian Harbour orthodontist adjusts the wire and fits it into your mouth. You’ll also receive instructions on how to properly care for your retainer.

We’d also note that wearing a retainer should not be painful. If you feel pain after the first few days from the wire pressing into your gums, it will need a second, quick adjustment at the office.

Need a Retainer? Call Melbourne Orthodontics!

As you have learned, retainers are wildly important for patients to wear after braces or Invisalign. They also have specific medical uses beyond braces. If you have any questions or need to be fitted for a retainer, contact our offices in Melbourne or Indian Harbour Beach today.