Mullen Orthodontics offers retainers, mouthguards and occlusal guards for retention of the teeth.
Retainers are used after braces in order to help prevent the teeth from falling back to their original position by holding teeth in a certain position while allowing surrounding gums and bone to adjust. Retainers are used to hold your teeth where they are, and additionally to make very small desired changes in order to improve tooth position. They are most commonly removable and are usually used after braces or Invisalign. Whether or not you’ve had orthodontic treatment, your teeth have a lot of forces on them. Chewing and clenching or grinding your teeth can all cause your teeth to shift position. Dr. Mullen will work with you to find a schedule for wearing your retainer that works well. He recommends that most people wear their retainer every night for the first 3 months. Some people can scale back to every other night wear or wearing them 1-2 nights a week, but Dr. Mullen will let you know what he thinks is appropriate.
What Is A Retainer?
It’s a great day at Mullen Orthodontics because you finally get your braces off! Running your tongue over your teeth’s smooth surfaces, you’re looking forward to flossing easily, eating whatever you want, and not having anything in your mouth. Oops! Not so fast. Dr. Mullen says that now it’s time to wear an orthodontic retainer. The good news is that wearing a retainer is easy and well worth it in order to keep your teeth from shifting in the future.
A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance designed to “retain” or hold the position of your teeth as they are. They are usually made of either plastic or wire, or a combination of both. Your custom-made retainer will keep your teeth from shifting and protect your investment in orthodontics. As you age, your teeth tend to shift. The pressure and forces from chewing, clenching, or grinding your teeth conspire to shift your teeth around. Your retainer will help to prevent this naturally occurring, age-related shifting. Wearing your retainer exactly as instructed is the best insurance that your orthodontic treatment results last a lifetime.
Are Retainers Comfortable To Wear?
When you wear your retainers, certain teeth may feel pressure and might even feel some tenderness once in a while. If you experience this temporary discomfort, don’t worry — it’s completely normal. The more your wear the retainer as Dr. Mullen asks, the more comfortable it will be.
How Long Do I Have To Wear My Retainers?
Dr. Mullen will see you after you have been wearing your retainers for six months. During that time he will advise about full-time or part-time wear, monitor stability of the teeth, as well as monitor growth and development of wisdom teeth, if appropriate. After that, you are always welcome to call to schedule for him to check your retainers.
Types of Retainers
- Clear Retainers: These retainers are clear plastic appliances that fit very tightly to your teeth. They are much less visible than the other types of retainers, and can be more comfortable because they are not as bulky. They also prevent you from grinding your teeth together, because there is a thin piece of plastic between your teeth. The clear retainers have a lot of advantages, but they can wear out faster than other types of retainers.
- Hawley Retainers: Hawley retainers have a wire that crosses the front of your teeth and they have a thick plastic in the roof of your mouth. The wire clasps grasp selected teeth so the retainer is anchored securely. The wire in front of your teeth arches across the front side of your teeth and holds and maintains their alignment.
Fixed retainers are also referred to as “bonded” retainers. These types of appliances are attached (bonded) directly to the backsides of the six front teeth (3 teeth left of center and 3 right of center). The bonded retainers are nice because they are always in your mouth, doing their job. They are a little more difficult to keep clean when you are brushing and flossing, but Dr. Mullen and his staff are always happy to demonstrate how to floss properly around them.
Protecting your smile when playing sports is always important, but it is even more so when you have braces. The American Association of Orthodontists and Dr. Mullen recommend that you wear a mouthguard when participating in basketball, boxing, hockey, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, soccer, volleyball, water polo, or wrestling. Mouthguards help to protect your teeth, gums, and lips from injury.
Types of Mouthguards
Choosing the right mouthguard is very important. There are three common types of mouthguards: pre-made mouthguards, ‘boil and bite’ fitted mouthguards, both of which can be purchased at sporting-goods stores, and custom-made mouthguards from Dr. Mullen. When choosing which is best for you, be sure to choose one that is tear-resistant, comfortable, and fits properly, being sure it doesn’t keep you from breathing properly. It should also be easy to keep clean. Dr. Mullen can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces during contact sports.
Caring for your mouthguard
Because you put it in your mouth and depend on it to protect you, it is important to take care of your mouthguard by storing it properly and keeping it clean.
- These are the steps recommended for caring for your mouthguard.
- After each use, scrub the mouthguard gently with a toothbrush and hand soap under the faucet
- Store it a protective case, never leave it in the sun or in hot water, which may deform it.
- Replace your mouthguard at the beginning of each sports season, or if you notice that it was become worn or no longer fits properly.
- Do not chew or cut pieces off of your mouthguard. They come in different sizes, ask Dr. Mullen for help in finding the right fit for you.
- Bring your mouthguard in to the office to ask Dr. Mullen and his staff if yours is fitting properly
Injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries received by athletes, Dr. Mullen’s goal is to minimize your risk of damage to your smile without having to change the sports you enjoy playing.
Occlusal splints, also referred to as night guards, are most commonly a thick piece of hard plastic that covers all or part of your teeth to prevent you from touching your teeth together. Dr. Mullen often prescribes night guards and occlusal splints to those in need of additional protection for their teeth, muscles and jaw joints.
Night guards often are appropriate for patients who clench or grind their teeth while they sleep. Dr. Mullen sees these habits cause abnormal tooth wear and cause jaw joints and muscles in the face and head to feel fatigued when you wake up in the morning. You may also experience headaches if you clench or grind your teeth a lot. Untreated teeth grinding and clenching has the potential to cause serious damage to your teeth. You can fracture your teeth, suffer from chronic headaches, damage your jaw joints, and compromise your periodontal health. Night guards also can be worn during the day for individuals who clench while awake.
For some patients who experience muscle pain and temporomandibular (TMJ) joint dysfunction, Dr. Mullen offers custom-made, removable occlusal splints. Please notify Dr. Mullen if you have TMJ disorder, or you clench/grind your teeth so he can evaluate you and determine if one of these appliances can help improve your condition.