The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces or Invisalign

October 18th, 2019

Whether you wear metal braces, clear braces or use Invisalign to straighten your teeth, your dentist will probably recommend that you follow up that treatment by wearing a retainer. While it may seem inconvenient to wear a retainer after undergoing the long process of tooth straightening, wearing a retainer can help keep your smile long after you finish your teeth-straightening treatment.

Crooked teeth are common, and so is the use of braces. More than four million people in the United States wear some sort of braces to straighten their teeth. About 25 percent of these people are adults, but most are teens. A recent survey of orthodontists found that 60 percent of patients wore their retainers more than 10 hours each day in the first three months of treatment; about 4 percent never wore their retainers at all. Neglecting their retainer leaves these patients at risk for developing misaligned teeth later in life.

Understanding How the Tooth Straightening Process Works

It is important to correct crooked, misaligned or gap teeth. While crooked teeth are a cosmetic issue, they can also cause dental problems – crooked teeth can put extra pressure on different parts of your mouth to cause problems later on in life. Misaligned teeth can also be difficult to brush and floss around, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Poorly aligned teeth can also result in a poor bite that prevents you from chewing your food well.

Dentists use a number of treatment plans, such as metal braces, clear braces and Invisalign, to straighten teeth. These treatments work by applying pressure to the teeth to gradually moving them into their optimal position in your jaw. Metal braces feature brackets cemented to your teeth and wires that apply pressure. Invisalign is a series of plastic trays that slowly push your teeth into place.

The good news is that, under pressure, the teeth move into place relatively easily. The bad news is that, without the pressure of braces or Invisalign, the teeth can move out of place again. This is especially true in the first year after you stop using Invisalign or have your braces removed. A retainer applies just enough pressure to keep your teeth in place while they settle into the new location in your jaw.

The Purpose of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces

There are two main types of retainers: fixed and removable. Fixed retainers are cemented in place, so you cannot remove them. You can easily slide a removable retainer in and out of your mouth. There are two types of removable retainers - Your dentist can recommend which type of retainer might be right for you.

Your orthodontist will also advise you on how long you should wear your retainer. Dentists usually recommend that you wear a removable retainer full time for at least one year after you have your braces removed or you stop wearing your Invisalign. If your teeth have stopped moving after a year of full time retainer use, your dentist may recommend that you wear your removable retainer only at night.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend that you wear a retainer at night for several years – or even forever, if your teeth tend to drift out of place.

If you don’t wear your retainer for the recommended amount of time, or not at all, your teeth may drift out of place and undo all of the hard work you have put into your beautiful smile. Neglecting your retainer can also put you at risk for a bad bite, tooth decay, gum disease and pressure from poorly aligned teeth. 

For more information on the importance of wearing your retainer after wearing braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth, contact OrthoCare Orthodontics. Dr. Ford Cooper, the founder of OrthoCare Orthodontics, works alongside two additional orthodontists to provide early orthodontic treatment, metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, corrective jaw surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, and emergency care. OrthoCare Orthodontics provides orthodontic care in four South Carolina locations, including Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and two offices in Charlotte, SC.

New patients can take advantage of a $500 off orthodontic treatment promotion at any of the four practice locations.

Why Do Adults Need Orthodontics?

May 29th, 2019

Teens aren’t the only ones who are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Adults are as well. They too are choosing to change their smile with the help of orthodontic treatment.

Just How Many Adults are Undergoing Orthodontic Treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that approximately 20% of all orthodontic patients are adults. That comes out to 1 in every 5 patients who are getting some type of orthodontic treatment, such as Invisalign, traditional braces, or clear braces, are over the age of 21.

Why is Orthodontics for Adults So Popular?

Just like with teens, the reason why an adult would undergo orthodontic treatment will vary depending upon personal preferences and circumstances. Some individuals may choose to undergo orthodontic treatment just to improve their appearance, while others want to improve their oral health or to treat a specific problem.

Some of the most common reasons why adults need orthodontic treatment include:

  • Changes to their appearance - orthodontic treatment can improve a person’s smile by making their teeth appear straighter and more even.
  • Improve oral health - straighter, more even teeth are easier to brush and floss.
  • Correct over- and underbites - over- and underbites can cause problems with speaking and eating.
  • Relief from jaw pain - jaw pain can sometimes be caused by teeth grinding or clenching. People with straighter teeth and a more even bite tend to not clench or grind their teeth. Orthodontic treatment can help correct a person’s bite and straighten their teeth.

What Treatment Options are Available for Adults Considering Orthodontics?

Adults who are considering undergoing orthodontic treatment have a number of treatment options available to them. Orthodontic treatment options that are available to adults include:

The type of orthodontic treatment that will be used will depend upon the types of problems that need to be corrected.

For example, Invisalign is great with correcting overcrowded teeth or gaps between teeth. However, it isn’t able to correct teeth that need to be rotated or a person’s bite. On the other hand, traditional braces and clear braces can correct everything from severe orthodontic problems, such as severe overcrowding and jaw misalignment, to minor problems such as gaps between teeth or slight overcrowding of the teeth.

Want to Correct Your Smile? Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Orthodontics for Adults

Interested in correcting your smile? If so, call us at OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule a consultation. Our comprehensive orthodontic consultation will help you discover what type of treatment can be used to help you improve your smile. During the consultation, we will take a series of x-rays and digital photos, conduct an oral examination, and talk with you to see what your expectations are. Then, we will be able to provide you with personalized treatment recommendations to help you get the smile you have always wanted.

Invisalign vs Braces: Which Orthodontic Treatment is Right for You?

April 16th, 2019

If you're considering orthodontic treatment for yourself or your teen, you've got a decision to make. Do you opt for traditional treatment using metal braces? Or do you go with Invisalign, which uses a series of clear plastic trays to straighten your teeth? At OrthoCare Orthodontics, we get asked the "Invisalign vs braces" question quite a bit. While the decision is ultimately yours to make, we'll lay out the pros and cons of each treatment option.

Invisalign treatment

With Invisalign treatment, a series of 3D printed trays are used to move your upper and lower teeth to more aesthetically pleasing positions. You'll change the trays periodically, typically every week. Each new tray slowly brings your teeth into a better position.  There's no need to come to the office every month for adjustments like you would with metal braces. You can manage your own treatment as long as you replace the trays on the schedule directed by your orthodontist.

Invisalign trays are taken out when you're eating or cleaning your teeth. That means you won't have to change what you eat or avoid the foods you enjoy in order to accommodate your orthodontic treatment. You also won't have to purchase specialty equipment just to keep your teeth clean while they're being straightened. The only thing you'll have to remember is to brush your teeth before you put the Invisalign tray back over your teeth after eating.

There are other benefits to Invisalign as well. Invisalign doesn't come with the discomfort and problems often associated with metal braces. Invisalign trays are comfortable and don't leave your gums and cheeks sore. Plus, the trays are completely clear. No one will ever know you're having orthodontic treatment unless you choose to tell them!

While they have many benefits, Invisalign may not be right for people with significant spacing issues or over/under bites. The system is good for people with relatively straightforward straightening requirements.

Metal braces

Used for decades to straighten teeth, traditional braces are usually best for more complicated cases that require bites to be corrected or the palate expanded along with straightening the teeth.

Braces consist of metal bands and brackets with wires threaded through that connect your teeth. These elements work together to slowly move your teeth into the correct position.

Metal braces are glued to your teeth, so you can't remove them. That means they can be a challenge to keep clean. Food particles get stuck in the brackets and under the wires. You may need to purchase a water pik or other equipment so you can adequately clean food from your braces.

You'll also need to avoid some foods completely. Sticky, crunchy and hard foods are not permitted during orthodontic treatment with metal braces. If you play contact sports, you'll also need to wear a mouth guard to protect your braces during the game.

Metal braces also must be adjusted regularly. So, you'll need to return to the orthodontist's office at least once a month for adjustments to be made. Your specific treatment plan will dictate exactly how often you must return. And the adjustments can cause discomfort to your mouth. The metal brackets rub raw areas on your mouth which makes it difficult to chew or talk.

Even with these drawbacks, metal braces are the best choice for many adults and teens who need a good deal of correction.

If you have additional questions about treatment with Invisalign vs braces, please contact our office. We're happy to help you decide which option is right for you. Plus, new patients can receive $500 off orthodontic treatment at any of our locations!

Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign

February 25th, 2019

Choosing whether to use Invisalign or traditional braces to improve your smile is perhaps the most important decision you will make on your orthodontic journey. The type of treatment you choose to use will not only determine the length of your treatment and how much it costs, but it will determine the results you see when treatment is completed.

While an orthodontist is the only person who can tell you exactly what type of orthodontic treatment is best for you, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about both Invisalign and traditional braces. Learning more about these options can help you make a well-informed decision about which type of treatment is right for you.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are what most people think of when they think of orthodontics. This is the mouth full of square brackets, rubber bands, and wires.

Benefits of traditional braces include:

  • Effective at correcting all types of problems from minor overcrowding of the teeth to major spacing issues or tooth misalignments
  • Helps if teeth need to be rotated during treatment
  • Able to correct bite issues such as overbite, crossbite, and underbite
  • No removable parts, such as trays, that can be lost or misplaced
  • Aspects of your treatment, such as tightness of the wires and how your teeth move, can easily be adjusted each follow-up appointment you have with the orthodontist which helps if problems arise during treatment
  • Works great with teens who have bones that have not finished growing

Possible drawbacks of traditional braces include:

  • Treatment time varies depending upon the complexity of the problems that need to be corrected
  • Orthodontic devices cannot be removed, meaning they are visible
  • Multiple food restrictions are in place to prevent damaging of the brackets and wires
  • Multiple office visits will be required throughout treatment so the wires can be tightened and brackets can be fixed if broken
  • Can take time to learn how to properly brush and floss with traditional braces

Pros and Cons of Invisalign

Using a series of clear plastic aligner trays, Invisalign subtly shifts your teeth into proper alignment. Just like with traditional braces, there are benefits and drawbacks to Invisalign.

Benefits of Invisalign include:

  • Orthodontic devices, which are clear plastic trays, are almost invisible
  • Great for correcting spacing issues and minor misalignment of teeth
  • Plastic aligner trays are removable which allows you to eat and drink what you want during treatment
  • Treatment may be more comfortable as there are no pointy wires or brackets
  • Cleaning your teeth with Invisalign is no different than before you started treatment
  • Fewer follow-up office visits are needed as treatment is almost all self-administered

Potential drawbacks of Invisalign include:

  • Not able to be used if you have had some types of previous dental work, such as crowns or bridgework
  • Requires a lot of self-discipline as the trays need to be worn for at least 22 hours a day and switched out on schedule
  • Cannot correct bite issues as it does not change the shape or structure of the jaw
  • Alignment trays can be misplaced or go missing

Orthodontic Treatment is Customized to Meet the Needs of the Patient

Every person has different needs when it comes to the type of orthodontic treatment that is recommended. Even two people who have similar problems that need to be corrected to improve their smile could be given two different recommendations for treatment.

A number of different factors go into determining what type of orthodontic treatment to recommend. Factors such as:

  • Types of malocclusion – the clinical term for incorrect placement or misalignment of teeth – that need to be corrected
  • Personal preferences – such as willingness to follow strict food restriction guidelines or comfort level with having visible wires and brackets
  • Budget for treatment - the cost of orthodontic treatment varies
  • Previous dental work - such as bridges, implants, or dental crowns
  • Age at the time of treatment – some treatment options work better when a patient is still growing while others work better after the bones have fully grown

An orthodontist will take all these factors into consideration and create a customized treatment plan that meets your needs.

Work with an Orthodontist to Choose the Right Treatment Option for You

Before making a final decision regarding which type of orthodontic treatment to use, schedule a consultation with the orthodontists at OrthoCare Orthodontics. An orthodontic consultation is important because sometimes your preferred treatment might not be the most effective way to improve your smile. Your first orthodontic appointment allows you to explore treatment options with an orthodontist and find out which one is right for you.

Are you ready to take the first step to improving your smile and oral health? Call OrthoCare Orthodontics today to schedule your complimentary orthodontic consultation at any of our four office locations located in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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