The orthodontist is more than just a specialty dental health professional. They’re the person who is responsible for getting your teeth as straight as possible, and not just to give you a better-looking smile. Properly aligned teeth fit together better when you bite and chew. This reduces wear on your teeth and prevents issues like fractures, chips, and cavities. But once you’re in the orthodontist’s chair, there are a few things you may not know about the treatment you're receiving. Aside from asking for tips about braces, you may want to know about retainer use or the long-term effects of tooth alignment. Understanding things from your orthodontist’s point of view can help you get the most out of your braces, clear retainers like Invisalign, or any other treatment you choose. Find out what your orthodontist most likely won’t just come out and tell you during your first visit.
Even your orthodontist knows that retainers are kind of annoying to wear. Yet they’re the key to keeping your teeth straightened and meeting your adjustment goals. Whether you need to wear a retainer throughout the day or only at night, it’s pretty easy for the orthodontist to tell if you’ve been following their instructions. Many patients assume that there will be little effect from skipping a few nights or forgetting it in a drawer for a while. But not wearing the retainer for even a short period of time allows your teeth to begin moving back into their old alignment. Gaps and angles will change, making it clear you’re neglecting the retainer. Make sure to wear it as prescribed and discuss any fit or comfort issues with your orthodontist so they can adjust it to better fit your needs. You may be able to switch retainer types as well to get a more comfortable experience.
If you’re using clear retainers, the orthodontist can also tell when you’re not treating them well. Most products like Invisalign call for removal when eating or drinking anything, and you may need to rinse your mouth or brush your teeth before putting them back in. Sipping coffee or soda while forgetting that you have your retainer in will make it discolored and hard to clean. It can even shorten the lifespan of the device or soften plastics and make the retainer less effective at aligning your teeth. Take care of the retainer and clean it as advised to avoid damaging or weakening it.
This all depends on the amount of orthodontic treatment you need and what your orthodontist recommends, but most people will need to continue using a retainer after braces are removed. For some people, retainer use may extend for the rest of their life. Others may only need between six months to a few years of additional wear to keep their alignment from shifting. Seeing your dentist regularly will keep you up on orthodontic visits as well because they can track your bite pattern and refer you for a checkup if anything appears to shift. You may need to return to the orthodontist as an adult if you lose teeth or have work done to get a new retainer to accommodate changes in your smile.
You may be concerned about how much braces cost, but getting them early for a child still developing alignment problems can greatly reduce the overall expense. Many dentists are reluctant to refer a child with straight-looking teeth to an orthodontist. But getting a checkup early, around age 8 or 9 for most children, is the best way to catch alignment issues before they’re fully grown in. Adjusting baby teeth and newly emerging permanent teeth reduces the length of treatment needed in most cases. You may be able to significantly reduce the Invisalign cost or price or other treatments just by starting early. If the orthodontist thinks your child’s teeth are perfectly straight, they won’t recommend any treatments at all. It’s best to have peace of mind knowing if your child will need tips for getting braces or if it’s unlikely the expense is in their future.
Choosing an orthodontist near me will make it easy to get to appointments, especially if something like a bracket needs repair. Here at Starling Orthodontics, we’re happy to serve the Brentwood, TN area. Call us today to get answers to all of your questions about braces, Invisalign, and more.