Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental misalignment or malocclusion and facial distortions.
Dentists who specialize in Orthodontics are more properly called Orthodontists. They have special training in the diagnosis of these problems, as well as treatment planning, design and its application.
To carry out the orthodontic treatment, dental braces are generally prescribed first. How long you will have to wear them depends on your individual needs. This is followed by a period of wearing retainers.
Retainers are devices, usually made of wires or clear plastic, that hold teeth in place following a period of teeth realignment with braces. They are used to help improve the appearance of teeth as well as aid in reinforcing the realignment process to completion. Retainers are made using casts or impressions of a patients’ teeth and gums, to ensure that they fit as closely as possible.
One purpose of retention is to maintain the newly corrected alignment of teeth achieved by the braces. During the period of realignment, gum and bone tissue surrounding the teeth also readjust to their new locations.
There are instances where the teeth may align at a quicker rate than the soft and hard tissues around them reshape. So, although the teeth may appear straight, once the braces are removed, teeth could revert back to their original misalignment.
Retainers are used during this phase to keep the teeth straight and in place, while allowing the small gaps in between teeth to settle into a more normal arrangement. They also need to be used until the muscles, tissues, gums and bones in the mouth and jaw adapt to the new setting of the teeth.
The Clear Retainer
A type of dental retainer that is gaining popularity is the Clear Retainer. This retainer is composed of either polypropylene or polyvinylchloride (PVC) material. It is made by using a mould of the teeth and gums and fits over the entire arch of the teeth.
The Clear Retainer is often compared to Invisalign trays. However, they differ in that the Invisalign system more likely to be used to move the teeth and to remedy an orthodontic problem.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Clear Retainers:
1) Because they are custom-made to fit over the teeth, they help hold teeth in their new locations.
2) They tend to be more comfortable to wear than the metal braces.
3) Patients may be able to comply better with wearing them for the required period of time per day since they are less noticeable (better aesthetics).
1) They are made of plastic and are therefore delicate and if mishandled, could easily break.
2) Since they cover the entire teeth, they may not be recommended if you tend to clench or grind your teeth because this may produce cracks or small holes.
3) They are less bulky, and because they are made of translucent plastic, might be easier to lose or forget.
4) If the gums are puffy or inflamed, impressions may not be possible to take, as it would lead to loose-fitting retainers.
Care for Clear Retainers
Since they stay in the mouth most of the time, retainers often get covered with bacteria, plaque, saliva, and food left over.
Here are a few tips on how you can keep them clean and hygienic:
– When you take them off, rinse them well with warm (never hot) water
– Soak them in a retainer cleaning solution, at least once a day, following package instructions. Do not soak them longer than necessary, and never overnight or all day. Rinse well after soaking.
– You can sometimes use a toothbrush and toothpaste. But, because a toothbrush can put scratches, use a soft-bristled one and a non-abrasive toothpaste. Brush gently but thoroughly.