Which Type of Retainer is Best?

March 15th, 2019

Whether you had extensive orthodontic treatment or just partial treatment, once your treatment with braces is complete, you'll need a retainer. Retainers are designed to keep your teeth from shifting back to their previous positions after your braces are removed.

Types of Retainers: Permanent, Clear Plastic, and Hawley

There are permanent (i.e., fixed lingual retainer), clear plastic, and Hawley retainers. These retainers serve the same purpose; however, as with any product or appliance, each type of retainer has its own pros and cons. Let’s explore these three types of retainers below.

Permanent Retainers

A permanent retainer consists of a wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth. If your teeth were rotated, had a lot of space between them, or were crowded prior to treatment, a permanent retainer may be a good option for you.

Pros:

  • Since this retainer is bonded to your teeth, you won’t have to think about putting it in or taking it out.
  • You probably won’t damage it
  • You can’t lose it
  • It isn’t visible
  • Most people state that permanent retainers are more comfortable than their removable counterparts

Cons:

  • Pieces of food may get stuck in the wire; therefore, brushing after meals is very important
  • Floss threaders need to be used. These allow you to floss between the retainer and your teeth.
  • Some movement of the teeth may occur; however, any movement is minimal
  • Brushing and flossing is essential to ensure plaque does not build up

Clear Plastic Retainers (Brand Names: Essix, Vivera, and Zendura)

These retainers resemble Invisalign trays because they’re thin, clear and fit securely over the teeth.

Pros:

  • Since the retainer is nearly invisible, no one knows you are wearing
  • Because the retainer is form-fitted to each tooth, these retainers are comfortable to wear
  • Clear retainers are removed for cleaning and eating
  • By molding the retainer to fit each tooth perfectly, the clear retainer does the best job at preventing the shifting of teeth

Cons:

  • These clear retainers are more expensive than traditional Hawley retainers
  • Since these retainers aren’t as durable as their traditional counterpart, they’re not recommended for people who play contact sports or grind their teeth
  • Cleaning a clear plastic retainer using a product like toothpaste can damage the material
  • Due to normal wear and tear, you may need a new retainer over time

Hawley Retainer

When you think about a retainer, chances are you picture the Hawley retainer. These retainers are made of acrylic that is molded to fit the inside of the roof or floor of the mouth. There are metal wires that wrap around your teeth to hold the retainer in place. These retainers are removable.

Pros:

  • When cared for properly, Hawley retainers can last for a long time
  • These retainers are durable, stain-resistant, somewhat adjustable and easy to care for
  • Can be taken out before eating, brushing, and flossing
  • Hawley retainers are available in a variety of colors
  • You can clean your retainer using a toothbrush and toothpaste or denture cleaner

Cons:

  • People who grind their teeth will quickly wear down these retainers
  • Talking and swallowing while wearing these retainers can be challenging.
  • Losing your retainer can be costly
  • The metal wire of this retainer is visible
  • You may produce more saliva than usual while wearing this retainer
  • Bacteria can accumulate if you don’t clean your retainer properly

Your orthodontist will discuss your retainer options and which type is best for your situation. After your braces are removed, it’s critical to wear your retainer as recommended by your orthodontist. If you don’t, your teeth will likely shift over time.

Contact OrthoCare Orthodontics today to learn more about how we can help you attain the beautiful smile you have always wanted. We have two offices located in Charlotte, North Carolina. We also have offices located in Spartanburg and Rock Hill, South Carolina. Contact one of our offices today to schedule your free consultation.

Will My Teeth Stay Where My Orthodontist Moved Them?

January 23rd, 2019

Change is a natural part of life. Just as our bodies change throughout our whole life, our teeth change too. We start out with no teeth, then get baby teeth, and shed those in favor of permanent teeth. Sometimes there are problems with tooth placement and jaw positions. That’s where the orthodontist is called in to bring about a change for the better, and transform misaligned teeth and jaws into a healthy and beautiful smile.

After orthodontic treatment is complete the most reliable way to keep your teeth where you and your orthodontist moved them is by wearing your retainers as prescribed. Your teeth will not stay where your orthodontist moved them unless you do. Changes in tooth position are a lifelong and naturally occurring phenomenon, and to maintain the result created by your orthodontic treatment, retainers must be worn. While small changes after treatment concludes are normal, retainers prevent teeth from going back to their original positions.

When treatment is complete, there is a “settling in” period; teeth adjust as you bite, chew, swallow and speak – actions that all place forces on your teeth. These small changes in tooth position are not a failure of orthodontic treatment, but are a natural process. If your retainer is not worn as prescribed, however, large changes occur instead. Large changes are disappointing to the patient, and to the orthodontist. If you are in retainers, and should you notice an unwanted change in your bite or your smile, or if you should lose a removable retainer or damage a fixed retainer (bonded in behind teeth), contact your orthodontist right away. Don’t give teeth an opportunity to shift. Commit to wearing retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist and limit undesirable changes!

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Tips For Adults With Braces

January 10th, 2019

When you have braces on teeth, those teeth need extra attention to protect them from decay, staining and gum disease. You should also take precautions to avoid damaging the braces.

For example, activities to avoid include eating chewy or sticky sweets, eating hard or crunchy foods, biting your lip, breathing excessively through your mouth and pushing your tongue against your teeth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

Brushing

Although brushing twice a day is the standard oral care recommendation, when you wear braces, you should brush after every time you eat — even after that mid-afternoon vending machine snack or some late-night munchies. That's because food particles easily become trapped in the braces, and the longer those particles stay trapped, the greater risk you have of developing dental problems. Use a soft toothbrush with round bristles, or an electric toothbrush if you prefer.

Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen food stuck in and around your braces. It's important to brush each tooth at the gum line and both above and below the brackets. Brush your gum line first, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Next, clean the brackets by brushing at a downward angle on top of the brackets and brushing at an upward angle at the bottom of the brackets. Rinse again after brushing.

Other Cleaning Methods

Floss at least once a day, making sure you floss not only between the braces but also under the wires. To more easily floss under the wires, use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser, which you can buy at drug stores. Waxed floss is easier to slide between your teeth and less likely to snag on your braces than unwaxed floss.

If you have space between your teeth, you might find that an interproximal (also called interdental) brush that goes between the teeth works better than flossing. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator. Its stream of pulsating water can remove plaque and food debris. You can also rinse with mouthwash to kill any bacteria missed by brushing and flossing.

Watch What You Eat

When you wear braces, you need to be more aware of what you eat. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods can cause plaque to build up around the brackets, which can cause staining of the teeth, causing cavities or leading to gum disease. You should especially avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces.

Hard foods are another no-no. Foods such as nuts, ice, popcorn and beef jerky can break the wires of the braces and loosen the brackets. Even otherwise healthy foods, such as raw apples and carrots, can be problematic because their hard texture can damage the wires. To eat crunchy foods, cut them into small, bite-size pieces.

Additional Tips

If you are caught without a toothbrush, vigorously rinse your mouth with water (or mouthwash) and brush as soon as possible. Also, if your braces or wires chafe the inside of your lips, you can place a special wax on them to prevent this from happening. You can get this wax at drug stores, or just ask your dentist or orthodontist.

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How to Clean Your Retainer

December 10th, 2018

The same bacteria that build up on teeth can grow on a retainer. As a result, putting an unclean retainer in your mouth is like applying a bacteria and plaque-laden solution to the teeth and gums.

7 Myths About Orthodontics

November 22nd, 2018

October is National Orthodontic Health Month, the perfect time of year for the American Association of Orthodontists to set the record straight on seven common myths about orthodontic treatment.

Myth #1. Anyone who provides braces or aligners is an orthodontist.

False. While some general dentists or online companies offer braces or aligners, only an orthodontist who has taken the additional years of advanced training at an accredited residency can call themselves an orthodontic specialist or be a member of the AAO. It’s not worth the risk of permanent damage to your face and smile to allow anyone who isn’t an orthodontist to attempt to move your teeth. By selecting an AAO orthodontist, you are choosing a specialist who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile.  Look for the AAO logo at your orthodontist’s office, or locate an AAO orthodontist using ‘Find an Orthodontist’ at aaoinfo.org/truth.

Myth #2. Orthodontists are so expensive.

AAO orthodontists are unique health care providers who carefully customize their patients’ treatment plans and as a result, their fees directly reflect the complexity of each case. From simple cases which only take months to treat, to very difficult ones which may take a couple of years, the benefits of having an expert provide your orthodontic care will be well worth it. Most AAO orthodontists offer free consultations and flexible payment plans, and are willing to work with their patients in order to help them achieve a beautiful smile. Trust your smile to an AAO orthodontic specialist who will safely straighten your teeth and closely monitor your progress to ensure that your bite is the best that it can be.

Myth #3. Office visits are not necessary to get straight teeth.

No Visits = No Monitoring = No Good

The reality is that the health of your gums, teeth and jaws cannot be monitored during treatment if you are never seen by a qualified orthodontist. Even the most carefully planned treatments need to be closely monitored to ensure that your treatment stays on course. These visits must be completed by a trained orthodontist should a problem arise or a mid-course treatment correction be needed. The good news is that today’s technology has allowed patients to extend intervals between appointments to as long as 8 to 10 weeks.

Myth #4. Orthodontic treatment takes several years.

Orthodontic treatment requires careful, controlled movements of the teeth to ensure they are moving into proper positions. From simple cases (which may only take a few months to treat) to the most complex cases (which could take longer), your AAO orthodontist has the training, experience, and skill to deliver an excellent result in the shortest amount of time. It’s not worth the risk to have someone who attempts to do orthodontics as a side business because of the possible irreversible damage that could occur.

Myth #5. Orthodontic treatment is purely cosmetic.

There’s much more to orthodontic treatment than meets the eye. An improved appearance is the most obvious result. But when teeth and jaws are in alignment, it means function (biting, chewing, speaking) is improved, too – a dual treatment benefit!

That beautiful smile is the outward sign of good oral health, and sets the stage for the patient’s overall well-being. Orthodontists play a larger role in healthcare than is generally realized.

Myth #6. Orthodontists only offer metal braces.

Orthodontists spend years studying and training in how teeth move. It makes them expertly qualified to use all the tools available to provide the best care possible for their patients. That includes metal braces, as well as a full range of other appliances (devices designed to move teeth) that can be fixed or removable, with clear options available. Rather than pressuring a patient into using a particular product or service offered by individual companies, orthodontists are craftsmen with a variety of tools at their fingertips. An AAO orthodontist has the expertise to provide the best appliance (at the right time) to achieve the best result in the most timely manner.

Myth #7. Orthodontic treatment is just for kids.

False. Patients of all ages, young and old, can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Age is not a concern when it comes to getting a healthy, beautiful smile. In 2014, close to 1.5 million adults were treated by AAO orthodontists! Because adults may have more complicated cases from prior dental work or gum disease, it is imperative that their treatment be provided by an AAO orthodontist who has the training, expertise and experiences to deliver the best results.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.

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What Age Should Your Child Start Orthodontics?

November 10th, 2018

Braces are probably one of the most dreaded words for a parent to hear when taking their child for a dental check-up. Orthodontics relate to many issues for young developing children including their self-image. For a parent, the concern for their child to develop a healthy smile is also confounded by the sometimes prohibitive cost of braces.

However crooked teeth can indicate developmental problems for a child that influence their breathing, posture and sleep habits. While the traditional idea of an orthodontic correction is through bracketing (braces), many orthodontists and dentists are now employing preventative treatments to correct habits that potentially prevent braces altogether.

When Your Child Should Get an Orthodontic Checkup

If you think your child has crooked teeth, when should you plan for orthodontic treatment? There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about when a child should commence orthodontic work. The American Academy Of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that most children should have an orthodontic assessment by age 7.

With studies have shown that braces are more frequently applied to children at a later date (11-13) than the younger prepubescent (8-10) bracket.  Which is correct for your child?

Traditional Approaches to Orthodontics

Up until recent times, there has been a general consensus that a child with dental arch problems should wait until around the age of 12 when all of their baby teeth have fallen out before having orthodontic braces. The idea was that the treatment course is much more predictable when the adult dentition has fully erupted to avoid the need for repeat treatment.

However today we now know that crooked teeth can be a sign that the upper and lower jaw aren’t developing properly, which impacts a child’s facial, airway and spinal posture. Therefore a child’s dental growth may mean that corrective therapy should be considered to assist a child’s facial and dental growth.

Signs Your Child Needs Braces

Until age 10, your child will go through crucial growth phases that shape many of the important structures of their face and head. At birth, the skull is made up of softer material that makes up cartilage in our joints. As the child grows, cartilage is converted to the bone that will form the adult skull.

Upper teeth are related to the development of the upper jawbone or maxilla. When the upper dental arch is crooked, it may indicate that the upper airways or sinuses are cramped which can cause a child to breathe through their mouth.  Mouth breathing, along with other signs that child needs braces include, snoring at night, slumped posture, poor sleep, and dark circles or venous pooling under the eyes. All of these observations in a child may indicate that a child is at risk of future sleep-disorders and potential ill-health.

Myofunctional and Prepubescent Orthodontic Treatment

With crooked teeth being related to the airway, breathing, and facial development, orthodontists are now taking all of these factors into consideration when assessing a child’s dental development. Earlier dental diagnosis and treatment of airway dysfunction and facial growth now gives a much broader scope of childhood dental assessment.

Early intervention orthodontics includes using functional appliances that assist the child’s jawbones to develop properly. For example, palatal expanders can be employed to encourage nasal airway formation alongside functional breathing and swallowing. When the habits of the child are corrected, the bones and teeth are allowed to grow as they are meant to it may avoid the need for orthodontic braces altogether.


Prepare Your Child for Early Assessment

There are many factors that influence your child’s smile growing healthy and straight. However, the health factors surrounding breathing and sleep that can accompany crooked teeth mean that parents should always take their child for early dental checkups to see if early intervention orthodontics is suitable for them.

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Should I See An Orthodontist or General Dentist?

October 25th, 2018

If you believe your dentist is also an orthodontist, take a minute to read this post.

Your confusion is understandable. After all, both dentists and orthodontists work on teeth. Both provide professional care that helps patients have good oral health, and both are dental school graduates. Your dentist may even offer orthodontic services, leading you to assume that he/she is an orthodontist. But the truth is that putting aligners or braces on teeth does not make a doctor an orthodontist.

Dentists, who are also known as general (or family) dentists, are concerned with overall oral health. Dentists treat decayed teeth (fillings) and remove failed teeth (extractions). They usually provide services such as crowns, veneers or bonding to improve the appearance and function of teeth that have extensive decay, or are misshapen or broken. Dentists look for abnormalities in the mouth and teach patients how to prevent dental disease.

As knowledgeable and skillful as dentists are, certain areas of dentistry have educational programs beyond dental school. Orthodontics is one of those areas. And that’s where specialists, such as orthodontists, come in.

Dental specialists get to be specialists by completing four years of general dental education in dental school, and then continuing in an accredited program where they study their specific specialty full-time for two or more years. When dentists studying a specialty area successfully complete their formal specialty education, they are able to use a title that denotes their area of specialization. “Orthodontist” is one example.

Other dental specialists include endodontists, who specialize in root canals; periodontists, who specialize in treating gum disease; pediatric dentists, who specialize in dental care for the under-21 age group; and oral and maxillofacial surgeons, who specialize in face, mouth and jaw surgery. Orthodontists are specialists who focus on the bite – how teeth meet and function, how they are aligned, how they are set in the jaws, and the positioning and sizes of the upper and lower jaws.

General dentists are licensed to practice dentistry. Some states allow them to provide specialty care, even if they do not have formal post-dental school training in the specialty services. For example, a dentist may be able to perform a root canal, but that does not mean he/she is an endodontist. A dentist may be able to extract a tooth, but that does not mean he/she is an oral surgeon. Likewise, a dentist may be able to provide braces or aligners to move teeth, but that does not mean the dentist is an orthodontist. Only orthodontists have the additional two or more years of orthodontic education from a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, providing them with specialized training in moving teeth.

So that you can tell the difference between a dental specialist (such as an orthodontist) and a general dentist, be aware of the doctor’s:

Education

  • Dentists and dental specialists graduate from dental school
  • After dental school, a dental specialist goes on to study full-time in an accredited program in their specialty area for two or more years. After graduating, a dental specialist may call himself/herself by a title to denote their specialty training (e.g., orthodontist)

Scope of practice

  • General dentists are licensed to provide general care and, in some states, are allowed to provide specialty care even if they do not have formal post-dental school training in an accredited residency program
  • In many cases, specialists focus their practice on their dental specialty

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Spacers for Braces - A First Step

October 5th, 2018

Smiling is one of the friendliest gestures you can make, and many people choose braces to help obtain a smile they're proud to flash. Even if you've had braces, you might not realize all the parts that make them function. Spacers for braces are just one of those parts.

Why Braces?

If your teeth are crooked or crowded, braces are an orthodontic solution to the problem. Braces can correct bite issues, also known as malocclusion, if the upper and lower jaws don't properly align when closed.

Braces also serve another function besides that sought-after straight smile. Uncorrected bite issues can result in various mouth health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and worn enamel, according to the American Dental Association. Correcting malocclusion and alignment issues with braces is another preventative measure against poor oral health.

The Parts of Braces

When you conjure the image of braces, you most likely picture a mouth full of metal. Bands are installed around the molars to anchor the structure of braces. Brackets are connected to bands and each other by arch wires and rubber ligatures, and sometimes by orthodontic rubber bands. But before any of this hardware can be installed, your orthodontist must insert spacers.

Spacers for Braces

Spacers aren't a part of braces, but they help prepare teeth for fixed braces to be fastened on, notes the Mayo Clinic. Before the orthodontic bands can be attached to the molars, space needs to be created between the teeth for the bands. That space is created by inserting small metal springs or rubber bands between the back teeth.

Fitting spacers (also known as orthodontic separators) is a simple procedure, but some patients feel a bit of discomfort. According to Braces Guide, the orthodontist stretches the elastic or metal spacer and firmly presses it between the teeth. Once the spacers are properly inserted, they'll stay in for the week before you get your braces.

The pressure created by the forced separation of your teeth can cause jaw, teeth and gum pain that typically lasts for a couple of days. However, it can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

How to Protect Your Spacers

One of the drawbacks of wearing spacers and braces is that certain foods are off-limits. Some of the main culprits are sticky foods, such as gum, caramel and taffy, which can become stuck on and around the braces. Hard foods like corn on the cob, raw apples and nuts can break wires and loosen brackets. Finally, foods high in sugar and starch can cause plaque to collect around the brackets, so be extra careful to brush thoroughly to avoid decay and staining.

Reading up on the many steps and parts involved in braces can help you care for your smile while it's under construction. From the start of spacers to the day the brackets come off, remember to see your orthodontist and dentist regularly and maintain excellent oral care at home.

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