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Cleaning Your Retainers

 

BRACES REMOVAL DAY is the most exciting day of any orthodontic patient’s treatment, but it’s not where the story ends. Next come the retainers, to make sure that smile stays properly aligned. But how do we keep our retainers in good condition, and why are they so important?

Why Do We Need Retainers?

It would be nice if our teeth stayed exactly where our braces left them: perfectly straight for the rest of our lives. Sadly, this isn’t how teeth work. They are held in place by periodontal ligaments, and these ligaments take time to adjust to their new position. Neglecting your retainer allows those ligaments to tug those teeth back to where they were before you had braces! This is why it’s crucial not only to wear your retainer as directed, but to take good care of it.

Cleaning Removable Retainers

Removable retainers come in two basic varieties: Hawley (the classic retainer made of wire fixed to a fitted acrylic plate) and Essix (clear plastic retainers). The different types require slightly different approaches when it comes to cleaning. Make sure to follow these steps so that your retainer doesn’t become smelly and full of tartar deposits.

Hawley Retainer

A cheap and easy way to clean your Hawley retainer is by soaking it in baking soda water. Doing this every day would damage the soldered metal pieces, so it’s important to only do this once in a while. Baking soda is a safer solution than effervescent tablets, especially if you have allergies. You should also avoid using mouthwash, which can dry the acrylic out to the point of damaging it.

Essix Retainer

It’s important to brush your Essix retainer as often as you brush your teeth — but hold the toothpaste, because it could scratch the plastic. Also make sure that the water you use to rinse it is lukewarm. Hot water will warp the retainer’s shape. Soaking in baking soda water is a great way to deep-clean an Essix retainer too, and there isn’t any metal solder to worry about, so you can do this as often as you like.

Looking for more uses for that baking soda? Check out this video:

Cleaning A Permanent Retainer

These are great tips for cleaning removable retainers, but what if you have a permanent retainer — the kind cemented to the backs of your teeth? Easy! Just clean these the same way you kept your braces clean: diligent brushing and flossing.

It can be tricky to floss around a permanent retainer, but it’s crucial for keeping tartar from building up around it and the backs of your teeth. Threaders and special floss designed for retainers can make this process easier, and you might even consider getting a water flosser if you don’t already have one.

If You Need More Tips On Retainer Care, Just Ask!

Whatever kind of retainer you use, you can always bring yours to our office or to your dentist for cleaning and inspection. We want to help you make sure that retainer lasts!

We’re so excited for you to move on from braces to retainers! Great job!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Avoiding Post-Braces Stains

OUTSIDE OF ANTIQUE FURNITURE and modern art, stains are pretty much always bad news. Worst of all is when the stains are on our teeth. If we aren’t careful during orthodontic treatment, we can end up with white spots on our teeth around where the brackets used to be when the braces come off. But why does this happen and how can we avoid it?

Why Teeth Develop Stains

The first thing you should know when it comes to post-braces stains is that they are not inevitable. It also isn’t the braces themselves that stain teeth. However, they do make it easier for plaque to build up, because the wires and brackets provide numerous nooks and crannies where bacteria and food particles can hide, making cleaning more difficult.

When plaque forms around brackets, it leaves decalcified patches. Then, when the braces come off, the spots where the brackets were are the same color as before, while the rest of the tooth has a bleached appearance. The buildup of plaque also increases the risk of decay and gum disease while the braces are on.

How To Keep Your Teeth Stain-Free

Your best defense against white spots and other stains is a good oral hygiene routine. Make sure to brush thoroughly at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and stay on schedule with your regular dental cleanings. Your dentist can get to any plaque or tartar you might have missed.

Another way to avoid stains is to stay away from foods and drinks that are known to leave stains, such as coffee, dark teas, highly acidic drinks (like soda), sugary foods like candy and cookies, and even chips! All of these foods and drinks can either directly stain the teeth or they can easily get stuck between brackets and lead to plaque buildup.

Other things to avoid are tobacco and alcohol. These are big causes of stains on their own, and braces only make it worse because you’ll still have those normal-colored patches when the brackets come off. Your teeth will thank you if you steer clear.

Are The Stains Permanent?

If you do have stains or white spots when your orthodontic treatment ends, there are ways of fixing them. Some stains become less intense over time simply by being exposed to your saliva, which is why we might not recommend any whitening treatments right away. After a few months, if the stains are still visible, you can use over-the-counter whitening products or have your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist for a more uniform result.

Still Worried About Stains?

If you want to learn more about white spots and how to avoid them, just ask us! We want to help you get the smile you deserve, and that means having teeth that are stain-three as well as properly aligned.

Our patients are the best!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Supernumerary Teeth

 

MOST PEOPLE WILL develop a total of twenty baby teeth that are gradually replaced by a total of thirty-two adult teeth. Sometimes those teeth don’t all appear, a condition called hypodontia. In even rarer cases, all the normal teeth will be present, plus at least one extra! These extra teeth are supernumerary teeth, and the condition is called hyperdontia.

Why Do Extra Teeth Form?

There are two main competing theories about what causes supernumerary teeth. One possibility is that an individual tooth bud might divide abnormally and result in two teeth instead of one. Another is that extra teeth could result from hyperactivity in the dental lamina (the tissue in our jaws that forms tooth buds). Hereditymight also play a role.

Supernumerary teeth can come in various forms. They might be conical (peg-shaped), tuberculate (with multiple cusps), supplemental (duplicates of normal teeth), or odontoma (a mass of dental tissue that doesn’t quite form a tooth).

Who’s Most Likely To Have Them?

Hyperdontia affects far more men than it does women. One study done in southern China showed that only 2.7 percent of children had supernumerary teeth, with a ratio of 6.5 affected boys for every 1 affected girl. They’re also more common in permanent teeth than baby teeth. Several developmental conditions increase the likelihood of having at least one extra tooth, such as cleft lip or palate and Gardner syndrome, but there’s still a lot of debate about what actually causes hyperdontia.

How Do These Teeth Affect Oral Health?

The most obvious effect of a supernumerary tooth is on the appearance of the person’s smile, but not all of the concerns are cosmetic. They often remain impacted in the gum line and can cause crowding and alignment problems for the normal series of teeth, sometimes making it harder for them to erupt. In serious cases, they can cause root resorption in the surrounding teeth.

Treatment For Hyperdontia

Sometimes, an extra tooth won’t cause any problems for the rest of the teeth, in which case it can remain where it is. If it is causing problems, however, the typical treatment is simply to extract the extra tooth or teeth so that the normal teeth will have enough room.

Let Us Take Care Of You

If you or someone you know is experiencing oral health problems because of supernumerary teeth, give us a call! We’ll be happy to take a look and determine whether or not extraction is necessary. In the meantime, keep on brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy, no matter how many you have!

Remember to smile! It’s contagious!

The Benefits Of Fixed Retainers

TOO MANY PEOPLE know what it’s like to accidentally throw a retainer away after lunch. Retainers can be expensive, so losing one is never fun. Fortunately, removable retainers aren’t the only option for keeping your teeth aligned after the braces come off!

What Are Fixed Retainers?
A fixed retainer, also known as a permanent or bonded retainer, is a wire that is glued to the lingual (tongue side) of the teeth. These retainers are typically made of stainless steel. The orthodontist fits it to the patient’s teeth, placing it just right so it’s not visible when smiling or talking, and attaches it with a form of cement. Some are cemented to each tooth, while others are only cemented to the teeth at the ends of the retainer.

Most often, fixed retainers are only placed on the backs of the front six lower teeth, though sometimes they go on the backs of the upper teeth, and some people even have them just for the two front teeth to keep a gap from reappearing. Fixed retainers are intended to stay in place indefinitely. If they break or come loose, it’s important to go back to the orthodontist to get them repaired.

How Fixed Retainers Compare
Now that you know what fixed retainers are, let’s look at some of the things that set them apart from removable retainers. The most obvious benefit to fixed retainers is that they stay in your mouth 24/7, which means you can’t lose them during lunch! It also means they’re continuously keeping your teeth in perfect position. Because they are so small, they tend to be much more comfortable than removable retainers. The best part is that nobody will see that you have one!

Cleaning And Maintenance
For all their advantages, fixed retainers can be tricky to keep clean. Food can get stuck in them and plaque can build up around them very easily and calcify into tartar, but they’re not so easy to clean out because the wire gets in the way of flossing. You can solve this problem with floss threaders or a water flosser. Make sure to get all those crevices!

Check out this video for tips on flossing around a fixed retainer:

You also might want to be careful when eating hard, crunchy foods, because they could break the wire or pop the cement loose from your teeth. If this happens, make sure to come see us!

Bring Us Your Questions!
If you have any questions about fixed retainers, don’t hesitate to ask us! Fixed retainers are a good option for some.  Whether you’re in braces now and thinking ahead to retainers or you already have a fixed retainer, we can fill in any blanks you might have. In the meantime, keep up your brushing and flossing!

We love our patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.