Orthodontic Treatment and Retainers

Making the Most of Your Orthodontic Treatment

I am going to give you the low down on orthodontic treatment. Every year many parents have to fork over a lot of money so that their teen can get braces. Orthodontic treatment isn’t covered by all dental plans, and even when it is, you might still have to contribute half the cost of treatment.

You'd Better Get Your Money's Worth

If you are going to put the time and financial commitment into pursuing orthodontic treatment, you will definitely want to get your money’s worth. Keep in mind that the orthodontic community is very small. Dental schools only accept a small number of dentists to study orthodontics. This ultimately ensures that the orthodontist will earn a high salary after graduating, and from the patient’s point of view it means that they might have to wait to begin treatment if their chosen orthodontist is overbooked. It also might mean that their orthodontist has multiple office locations in different cities and that their patients will only be able to schedule appointments on a particular day of the week. This can be difficult for the busy teen who has after-school clubs and sports practices.

It Doesn't End With Treatment

While it is important to follow all of your orthodontist’s recommendations during orthodontic treatment, what you do after treatment is as equally important in determining the success of your treatment. Your orthodontist will recommend his or her suggestions for retaining your teeth after your braces come off. Sometimes, it’s actually better NOT to listen to those recommendations. Teeth will move throughout an individual’s entire lifetime. There are so many factors that influence teeth and how they move. The only surefire way to guarantee that teeth will not move is to wear retainers.

There are basically two types of retainers used following orthodontic treatment: fixed and removable. Fixed retainers consist of a metal wire bonded to the back of the teeth. Fixed retainers can stay in place indefinitely. Removable retainers can be removed for eating or only worn at night. As a patient, you can use both. Some orthodontists claim that using both types of retainers is unnecessary, but ultimately they only recommend one or the other because it costs less for them to do so. Some patients simply don’t want to wear retainers, but by doing so will risk that their teeth will not stay in the newly straight position achieved with braces. If your teen is given fixed retainers, make sure that they are checked at each dental visit to be certain that they have not loosened. Many orthodontists will eventually say that their patients no longer need to wear retainers. This is simply not true. The best approach is to continue wearing removable retainers lifelong even if just when you sleep.

Some Things to Consider

If you choose clear braces such as Invisalign for your orthodontic treatment you will usually get a clear retainer. Keep in mind that Invisalign fits over your teeth and seals them off from the healthy bacteria in saliva. You will be more susceptible to cavities with Invisalign and actually with any braces, so make sure you request prescription fluoride toothpaste if this is not offered to you during orthodontic treatment.

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