When Your Permanent Retainer—Isn’t

January 30th, 2023

Even though it’s called a “permanent retainer,” your fixed retainer isn’t necessarily meant to last a lifetime. But with care, it should last just as long as you need it, keeping your teeth perfectly aligned after your orthodontic treatment is complete. Why is this retainer the one to choose for challenging alignments?

A fixed retainer is often used for teeth which were very crowded or had large gaps before treatment, especially along the bottom teeth, which tend to shift more. With a permanent retainer, a custom fitted wire is attached with a bonding adhesive to the back of each of the selected teeth. This design makes sure that the teeth can’t shift out of place while your bones and ligaments strengthen around them.

Occasionally, though, your permanent retainer isn’t quite as permanent as it should be. If you think your fixed retainer is becoming “unfixed,” what clues should you look for?

  • Broken wire

A clearly broken wire can be obvious, or you might discover it when you notice pain or irritation caused by the end of a wire poking around your tongue or mouth.

  • Loose bond

The orthodontic adhesive used to bond the wire to each tooth can come loose as the result of an accident, an unfortunately chewy treat, or simply with the passage of time.

  • Shifting teeth

You might not notice anything wrong with your retainer, but what you do notice is that your once-straight teeth have started shifting back to their old positions. If you see any movement in your teeth, your retainer might need repair.

What should you do?

  • Give our Spokane, WA orthodontic office a call! It’s important to act promptly to prevent further retainer damage, oral discomfort, and tooth misalignment.
  • Rinse with warm water if your mouth is irritated.
  • If a wire is poking you, call us for advice on gently pushing it back into place.
  • Orthodontic wax can protect your teeth and tissue from detached wires.
  • If you have a clear retainer, wear it until you can come in. If you don’t have one, and you can’t see us immediately, ask if an over the counter moldable retainer is a good idea to help keep your teeth aligned in the meantime.

One benefit of a fixed retainer is that it’s almost invisible because it’s behind your teeth. But this hidden location can also make it difficult to notice potential problems. Fortunately, there are some proactive steps you can take to help your permanent retainer—and your bite—stay healthy:

  • Avoid foods which are sticky, hard, or chewy. If a food can damage traditional braces, it can damage your retainer.
  • Wear protective gear like mouthguards and helmets when you’re active—they protect more than just your retainer!
  • Ask your dentist to examine your retainer adhesive’s staying power whenever you have a checkup.

If you notice a detached wire or loose adhesive or see your teeth shifting, give DR. Van Gemert a call. It’s important to act promptly to fix a fixed retainer, because your teeth and bite alignment are in jeopardy when you delay. And always bring your retainer (or retainer pieces) with you in case we can repair it.

Permanent retainers don’t necessarily last forever. But whether your fixed retainer is going to be with you long-term, or whether you’re going to transition to a removable retainer in the future, let’s make sure your permanent retainer is just as “permanent” as it needs to be!

Questions, questions…

January 23rd, 2023

When beginning orthodontic treatment, most patients ask DR. Van Gemert and our team a lot of questions about what to expect, while others choose to just "go with the flow" and leave it to us to build for them a beautiful smile. And for our team at I Smile Orthodontics, that's understandable.

But for those who do ask questions, two of the ones we frequently hear are "Will my braces hurt?" and "How long will these be on?"

We explain to our patients that despite what they've heard, braces do not hurt when they're initially put on. Yes, you will experience soreness after your braces are placed and when your teeth start to move. Too often, our patients hear horror stories about how much it hurts to get the braces on, so they tend to over-worry. The truth is, after their braces are on, almost all patients say "that's it?" because it's actually easy and painless!

At I Smile Orthodontics, we answer most of your other questions during your initial exam. When a patient visits our office for the first time, we give him or her a time estimate of how long it will take to achieve their ideal smile. All other questions are answered at the bonding appointment when the braces are placed. We cover all the topics, everything from eating to brushing with braces, but we also know that after your initial appointment, it's natural for you to have questions about your or your child's treatment. And we are always here for you; we are thorough and always try to answer any questions or concerns you may have. As a patient, that's one thing you never have to worry about. You will always know what's going on throughout your orthodontic experience.

Post-Braces Care: Wear your retainer!

January 16th, 2023

Many patients underestimate the importance of wearing their retainers after their braces come off, but it is one of the most critical post care practices to keep your teeth in alignment. Why spend all that time, energy, and money to straighten your teeth when you don't plan to keep them straightened after treatment?

What is a retainer?

As the name implies, a retainer keeps teeth from moving back to the positions in which they started before treatment was administered; they "retain" your smile and bite. There are many different types of retainers—some are removable and some are permanent. Some retainers are made of plastic and metal (known as Hawley retainers) and others are all plastic or all metal. Some retainers can even be bonded to the back of your teeth!

How long do I need to wear it?

If you've been given a removable retainer by DR. Van Gemert, you may be wondering how long you need to wear it. It takes time for the tissues and bones around your teeth to reorganize and set into place after braces treatment.

The amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainer depends on your unique situation, but typically, retainers should be worn at least as long as the time you spent in braces. You might need to wear them full-time for a while, and then transition to wearing them only at night. DR. Van Gemert will have a treatment plan especially for you, and if you stick to it, you'll always have a straight smile.

Nothing is forever (at least without retainers!)

Research has shown that there is no “permanent” position for your teeth to remain in. In fact, some studies say upward of 70% of patients will see a change to their bite and tooth alignment as they get older. This applies to people who have had orthodontic treatment and those who have not. Of course, some people's teeth never seem to shift—you can consider them the lucky ones, as most people's teeth do.

And this is precisely where retainers come in. The only way to ensure your teeth stay in alignment long-term is by wearing your retainers. If you have any questions about retainers or your treatment plan, please ask any member of our Spokane, WA staff.

Going Beyond Braces

January 9th, 2023

At I Smile Orthodontics, we aren’t just concerned with straightening your teeth and giving you the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. We are also committed improving the oral health and the well-being of all our patients. DR. Van Gemert and our team strive to serve our patients by educating them about their treatments, as well as making them feel as comfortable as possible during their initial consultations up until the day they complete their treatments.

Making our patients more comfortable with taking care of their braces in between visits increases the likelihood that they will complete their treatments successfully. We want you to know that if you should ever have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, whether it’s during your adjustment appointment or after hours, we are always here for you and your family.

Please do not hesitate to give us a call at our Spokane, WA office or ask us any questions you may have on our Facebook page! We can’t wait to hear from you!

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