Elastics in Orthodontic Treatment

Elastics: Why you need them

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So, you are at your orthodontist for an exam or for your regular appointment, and the doctor tells you that you will need to wear elastics during your time in braces. This may leave you wondering what elastics are and why you need to wear them in the first place? Read on to get the full scoop on the what and why of elastics in orthodontic treatment.

What Are Elastics, Anyways?

Almost everyone who has braces will at some point be told they need to wear elastics. The elastics resemble tiny rubber bands, but they are composed of latex, though non-latex elastics are available to those who are allergic or sensitive to latex. They come in a variety of sizes, which, in our office, are given animal names to help you remember which elastics you are wearing. The elastics are worn by attaching them to hooks that are placed strategically on your brackets.

Usually, you can place the elastics with your fingers. It takes a little practice, but given time, you will be able to put them in and take them out without even looking. You may have a few appointments before you have to wear elastics, and when its time to start wearing them, your orthodontist will instruct you on how they want you to wear them.

Why Are Elastics So Important?

Your orthodontist and the orthodontic assistant at your appointment will probably stress your cooperation with elastic wear when it is time to start wearing them. Something so small might seem like its of minor importance, but elastics are incredibly important to orthodontic treatment.

Your elastics are designed to retrain your jaw, and wearing them as recommended by your orthodontist will help correct your bite in ways that the wire and brackets alone cannot. Make sure to pay attention to the instructions as there are a number of ways the elastics can be worn, and you want to make sure you are wearing them correctly.  You can even request a diagram from your orthodontist that you can reference after your appointment to ensure you are wearing your elastics correctly long after you leave their office.

If you do not wear your elastics as often as you are told, or if you wear them improperly, your treatment can go on longer than originally estimated. Your orthodontist can always tell if you have worn your elastics properly, so make sure to be diligent and consistent in their wear, and be honest with your orthodontist if you could have done better with wearing them since your last appointment.

For additional questions on why elastics are important, or if you have questions on how you should be wearing them, do not hesitate to call your orthodontists’ office. If you are a patient of Walker Dixon Orthodontics with questions on elastics wear, or if you are interested in pursuing treatment with us, call our Fishers office at 317-570-0011, or our Indianapolis location at 317-849-0110.

Discomfort 101: The Best Ways to Treat Discomfort When in Braces

How do you treat discomfort when you are in braces? Read on for the best tips and tricks for treating orthodontic discomfort.

When you have braces, a little discomfort is to be expected. Luckily, all discomfort with braces is minor, and you should never be in so much pain that you miss school or work. Most discomfort caused by braces vanishes within a few days as your mouth and teeth adjust. With a little extra effort, you can reduce your discomfort levels until your mouth and teeth have had time to adjust!

Tooth Soreness:

This is very common after you have had your braces first put on and after each adjustment appointment. If you experience tooth soreness, take your preferred over the counter pain reliever such as Tylenol, Aleve or Advil, and refrain from eating any hard or chewy foods until the soreness goes away. Tooth soreness after appointments usually goes away after a few days, so just hang in there until its gone!

Mouth Sores:

Mouth sores are inside of your cheeks and sometimes the inside of your lips as well. Braces are composed of a lot of parts that are rubbing the inside of your mouth, so mouth sores are quite common when you have braces. To treat them, try a simple saltwater rinse composed of a cup of warm, not hot, water and 1-2 teaspoons of salt. Swish the solution around your teeth for about 15-30 seconds before spitting and continue the process until all of the solution is gone. It may taste funny, but a salt water rinse is easy and highly effective at healing mouth sores and making them less painful. There are rinses such as Peroxyl which we sell at our office that are designed specifically for mouth sores as well.

Using orthodontic wax is an effective way to cover and cushion a spot that is causing a mouth sore. Make sure to get the area you want to cover very dry to ensure the wax sticks. Paper towel works well for getting an area dry enough! While wax will help, use it sparingly as you will want the area getting the sore to get used to the braces being there. Over time, your mouth will get used to the braces and mouth sores will heal.

Something is Sharp or Poking

This can be the result of a couple of different things, but often, as your teeth begin to move and space between them closes, the wire has nowhere else to go but out the back of your bracket which can be a little uncomfortable. Using fingernail clippers or jewelry wire cutters, you can clip the offending wire on your own, or with the help of a parent if you are young. If the wire is impossible to reach, you can use orthodontic wax to cushion the sharp point. Again, make sure to get the area as dry as possible to help the wax stick. Use a salt water rinse to help your mouth heal if the poking wire has caused a sore.

If you have followed all of the steps above, and are still experiencing discomfort, call your orthodontist’s office. They will be able to tell you whether or not your discomfort can be treated at home, or if you need to come in for an appointment or see your dentist.

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.