Cleaning Your Retainer

Keeping your retainer clean has never been easier!

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Since your retainer is a lifetime commitment, you will have your retainer a long time, so it is important to know how to care for your retainer. This care includes keeping it clean. Luckily, keeping your retainer clean is easy and requires just a little of your time.

Cleaning:

There are a couple of methods recommended for cleaning your retainers. Dish soap and warm, not super hot, water is the most recommended way to clean your retainer. You can use a soft bristled toothbrush or proxabrush to get into the cracks and crevices, but remember to scrub gently to avoid unsightly scratches. Denture cleaner is another option that is easy to use and is inexpensive to acquire. Simply soak the retainer in the cleaner for the recommended time frame on the cleaner’s packaging.

Some methods are not recommended for cleaning your retainers. First and foremost, do not use any cleaners that are toxic to human consumption to clean your retainers. Make sure to read labels, and contact your orthodontist if you have questions on whether a product can be used on a retainer. Not only are some chemicals toxic to you, but they might also be too strong on your retainer and can cause damage!

Toothpaste is another substance to avoid. Toothpaste is designed to be abrasive to remove plaque and stains from your teeth, and this abrasiveness can make your retainer cloudy and cause scratches. Any colored cleaners, such as mouthwash and rinses, should also be avoided. They will kill off bacteria, but they will also stain your retainer and might be too strong. Lastly, do not boil your retainer. The high temperature can cause the retainer to become disfigured or even melt altogether!

For additional questions about cleaning retainers or about orthodontic treatment in general, contact your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics in Indiana. For the Fishers office, call 317-570-0011, or for the Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.

All About Retainers!

What is a Retainer, and Why is It Important?

What is a Retainer, and Why is It Important?

A retainer is a device used to keep your teeth in their perfect positions after your braces come off. It is important to wear your retainer consistently after your braces come off to ensure your teeth do not shift back to their pre-treatment state. Since your teeth are always alive, they are always going to want to move, therefore retainers are a lifetime commitment, and should be replaced relatively soon if they are lost or broken.

What are the Different Types of Retainers?

Because all mouths and teeth are different, your orthodontist may recommend a retainer that might be different from your friends’ retainers. The type of retainer most people think of is the kind of retainer that has a wire that goes around your teeth and a plastic piece that fits on the roof of your mouth. This type of retainer is known as a Hawley. Since it has a wire, the Hawley retainer can be adjusted when there are changes being made to your teeth. Your orthodontist might give you this type of retainer if they know you are going to lose teeth, or if your teeth have moved after your braces have come off.

Another type of retainer is the Acrylic Overlay. This retainer is a clear plastic tray that looks like a hollow model of your teeth at first glance. It fits right over your teeth, and is barely noticeable when worn. Your orthodontist will often give you this retainer if they want to keep your teeth exactly as they were, and is not adjustable, although it can be trimmed when baby teeth are lost to maintain its fit.

The last type of retainer is the 3-3, or as it is commonly known, the permanent retainer. A subtle, small piece of wire, your orthodontist will attach this retainer to the back of your bottom six front adult teeth at the end of your treatment. As these teeth are the most prone to fast movement, this retainer with faithfully keep your bottom teeth right where they need to be at all times.

If you have additional questions about orthodontic treatment, retainer wear, or if you need to replace a lost or broken retainer, contact your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics. For the Fishers office, call 317-570-0011, or for the Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.

TMJ and TMD

What is TMJ and TMD? Your questions answered.

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ is a commonly used abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, also known as the jaw joint. These joints connect the mandible to the skull and allow for the range of jaw motion through the muscles in the area. When the joints do not work together with the muscles, that is when TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs. TMD symptoms can include jaw pain and limitations in jaw movement such as locking or limited ability to open or close the jaw.

How do you treat TMD?

The correct course of treatment for TMD varies from case to case, and depends largely on the type and severity of symptoms. Self-treatment is always recommended first and includes the use of cold and warm moist compresses, over-the-counter pain reliever and a soft diet until symptoms subside. It is also recommended to avoid activities that put additional strain on the jaw muscles which includes yawning widely, chewing gum and eating hard or chewy foods. If symptoms persist, or are greater in severity, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist or your local orthodontic specialist who might recommend a splint or orthodontic treatment to correct a bite discrepancy that might be causing TMD. Surgery for TMD is usually only recommended as a last resort to treat TMD after all other methods of treatment have been exhausted, and extreme caution is advised for those seeking surgical treatment for TMD.

If you are experiencing TMD symptoms, and would like additional information on how bite correction can help provide you with relief, contact your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics to schedule an exam. For the Fishers location, call 317-570-0011, or for the Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.

Emergency Care: Bracket Has Come Off

Houston, We Have a Problem:
When something with your braces is just not quite right…

Your braces are a system made up of a lot of little parts that work together to make lots of little movements of your teeth. Since there are a lot of parts that move a lot, and they are attached to your mouth, which also moves a lot, it is likely that you might have some part of your braces that breaks, falls off, or just does something flat out weird that you can’t quite figure out.

Today, we are going to explore one of the different things that can go wrong while you have your braces, and what you should do if you encounter them. Some problems you might be able to fix on your own (or with a little help from mom and dad), but other problems might be a little more complex. For those, you will definitely want to ask your orthodontist for a helping hand.

Loose Bracket:

So you had a bracket come loose from your tooth. The tell-tale wiggle of a loose bracket is easily noticeable, and might be annoying to you. However, there is no reason to panic or worry if you have a bracket that has decided to break free. For this problem, your orthodontist will have to be involved as you can’t re-bond (what orthodontists call re-attaching a bracket) a bracket to your tooth on your own!

While having a piece come loose might seem like a big deal, this is not an orthodontic emergency. Having a bracket come loose causes no pain or bleeding, and as long as the rest of your brackets are still attached, there is no rush to get in to your orthodontist to have it re-bonded. In fact, when you call your orthodontist, they will even tell you it is okay to have a bracket off for up to a month and will usually just reattach it at your next regular visit.

In the meantime, here are some ideas to minimize any irritation caused by having a bracket off. If the bracket is still attached to the wire, you can attempt to slide it off if it is the back bracket, or if it is in between other, still attached brackets, you can use wax to keep it from moving around. When using orthodontic wax, make sure to dry the area where you intend to place the wax thoroughly. Paper towel works well for getting an area dry enough. Take a pea-sized amount of wax and roll it into a ball. Press the ball firmly over the loose bracket. The bracket should be stuck in place and no longer able to slide around on the wire.

Remember, having a bracket off is not a true emergency, and wont cause a delay in your orthodontic treatment if you get it re-bonded within a month. If your next appointment is over a month away, and you have a loose bracket, just call your orthodontist and get scheduled to have it repaired. Otherwise, a courtesy call to your orthodontist to just let them know you have one off is great as they will will know they just need to take a few extra minutes with you at your next regularly scheduled appointment.

Emergency Care: Wire Poke

Houston, We Have a Problem:
When something with your braces is just not quite right…

Your braces are a system made up of a lot of little parts that work together to make lots of little movements of your teeth. Since there are a lot of parts that move a lot, and they are attached to your mouth, which also moves a lot, it is likely that you might have some part of your braces that breaks, falls off, or just does something flat out weird that you can’t quite figure out.

Today, we are going to explore one of the different things that can go wrong while you have your braces, and what you should do if you encounter them. Some problems you might be able to fix on your own (or with a little help from mom and dad), but other problems might be a little more complex. For those, you will definitely want to ask your orthodontist for a helping hand.

Wire Poke:

You wake up one morning, or are going about your day, and all of a sudden you start to get the feeling that something is scratching at the back of the inside of your cheek, or when you talk, you feel as though your cheek is getting caught on something sharp. Surprise! You have what orthodontic offices like to call a wire poke. Probably the most common problem seen with braces, this issue is most often seen in the early stages of treatment as space between teeth is closing the quickest at this time. Naturally, as the space between your teeth closes up, the wire has to go somewhere, and often, it has nowhere else to go but out of the brackets on your very back teeth, making for an uncomfortable situation for you!

You can tell if you have a wire poke a lot of times just by how it feels, but if you are not sure, you can pull you cheek back and look in your bathroom mirror at your back brackets. You might just see a tiny piece of wire hanging out back there. If its too dark to  see exactly what is going on back there, you can use a flashlight (like the one on your phone) or recruit a parent to help you take a look.

Once you determine that you have a wire poke, it is then time to determine how to go about getting it fixed. Sometimes, a wire poke can be fixed at home with no extra trip to the orthodontist required. If you are recently in braces, your first wires are really thin and flexible, which means a simple nail clipper can sometimes do the trick. Simply slide the nail clipper back towards the offending piece of wire, holding your cheek back and out away from the brackets and snip that piece of wire as close to the bracket as you can. Kiddos, recruit the help of your parents for this one! If it is too far back to reach with the nail clipper, you can clip the wire up closer to the front where it is easier to see and get to until you can get into your orthodontist for a permanent fix. Your orthodontist can always replace a wire, but your comfort should come first.

If you are unable to fix the problem at home, call your orthodontist to see about making an appointment. Until you can get into your orthodontist, you can use wax to cushion the wire. Make sure to get the area as dry as possible (a paper towel works great for this), roll a pea-sized piece of wax into a ball, and press the wax firmly on the sharp piece of wire. This should make you a lot more comfortable until your orthodontist can get you in for a wire clip.

Remember, while a wire poke might be uncomfortable, it is easily fixed and no reason to panic. Take a deep breath, follow the steps above, and see about getting into your orthodontist.

Oral Hygiene With Braces

What all is involved in the care and keeping of your teeth with braces? Read on to find out how you can keep your teeth clean when you have braces.

Oral Hygiene with Braces

Importance of Excellent Oral Hygiene:

While maintaining great oral hygiene is important for everyone, it becomes absolutely necessary with braces. While braces act as a guide for your teeth, bringing everything into alignment, they also can act as a trap for food which, if left in place can cause gum swelling and bleeding in as little as 10 hours. If left longer than that, the trapped food can cause decay (cavities) and tooth discoloration (decalcification). No one wants cavities or decalcification when they get their braces off, and by following the steps below every day, you can be sure that your teeth will stay beautiful.

Brushing:

With braces, it is essential that you brush your teeth after every meal to remove food particles that might be hidden from view. Brushing after every meal includes brushing after lunch at school or work. This means that you will want to keep a spare toothbrush and toothpaste in your cubby or locker at school or in the break room at work. If you do not have a way to store your toothbrush and toothpaste at work, consider getting travel size toothpaste and brushes and carrying them with you in a sandwich baggie.

Brushing your teeth with braces is a little different than brushing teeth that are brace-free. To ensure you are getting both above and under the brackets, practice brushing at an angle. This will allow the toothbrush bristles to clear out food particles that might be stuck at your gum line as well as knock loose anything under the wire. In addition to brushing at an angle, you will want to replace your toothbrush a little more often as the brackets and wires wear on toothbrush bristles a little faster than brace-free teeth. There are toothbrushes on the market that have bristles designed especially for easy navigation around braces, but a normal toothbrush used the correct way will work just as well.

Flossing:

Flossing with braces definitely provides more of a challenge than flossing normally as you have more obstacles such as the brackets, wires and sometimes elastics to maneuver around. However, despite the extra bit of effort needed, flossing is absolutely necessary to keep your teeth healthy and clean while in braces. Fortunately, there are a number of tools to help flossing when in braces much easier. Floss threaders are one such tool, and look like a giant, flexible sewing needle. Simply thread your preferred dental floss through the hole in the threader and slide the threader under your wires to floss between your teeth one at a time.

For those wanting to save time and avoid having use a floss threader, there are a couple of other options, too. Flosser picks, which are shaped like little pitchforks, are pre-threaded and allow you to easily floss from one tooth to the next. Ensure the flossers you purchase are designed for braces though, as some of the general flossers are too wide to fit under the wires. Our office recommends the Plackers for Orthodontics which can be ordered online. You might still need to use the threaders if you have some brackets that are close together and inhibit the flosser’s reach.

Waterpiks also allow for speedy flossing, but rather than using dental floss to clear out debris between your teeth, they use high powered bursts of water to blast out the gunk. They are a little more expensive than traditional flossing methods, but are very effective, long-lasting, and are great for use after braces as well as during your orthodontic treatment. You can find Waterpiks in stores, but our office also offers them at a discount over retail to our patients.

Fluoride Rinses:

As an extra precaution, our office recommends each patient use a fluoride rinse in addition to their normal oral hygiene routine. While it is not required, a fluoride rinse acts as an extra preventative step against cavities. Our office uses and recommends the fluoride rinse Phos-Flur, which comes in two flavors, mint or grape, and we sell it at a discount to our patients. When using a fluoride rinse, follow the instructions on the bottle which may vary from brand to brand. In general, the fluoride rinse will be the last thing you do at night before bed. After using it, do not rinse with water, eat or drink anything to allow the fluoride to sit on the teeth undisturbed.

For more information on oral hygiene while in braces, orthodontic treatment in general, or to schedule an exam, call your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics in Indiana. For our fishers office, call 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.