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Help, I lost my removable retainer! What now?

Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful and enjoyable Xmas break. For our first post of 2019, we thought it’d be a good idea to address a question many of our patients ask: What happens if I lose my retainer?

Please remind me — why must I wear a retainer?

A retainer is an essential part of your treatment, and your orthodontist should have explained why. But, in case he/she didn’t, here’s the reason: Once your braces come off, like ‘the cat that came back,’ your teeth will tend to try to return to their original crooked positions. A retainer’s job is to ensure those teeth stay put and resist future time or growth-related change.

There are two types of removable retainers: One, which is most common, looks like a plate; the other, which adults usually wear, looks like an Invisalign ©.

Most people wear a retainer full time for six to 12 months and then cut down to wearing it only at night for six to 12 months. Ideally, though, to ensure your teeth remain perfectly straight, wearing a retainer should be a lifetime commitment — although usually just for a couple of nights a week.

Watch out for Fido

At Turner Lim Orthodontists, we hear all kinds of tales about retainers going AWAL. One of our patients, for example, lost a set on the Rangitoto Ferry — probably while having a quick ‘hurley.’ You may be surprised to learn, though, that a common reason for retainer disappearance is the family pooch — dogs love retainers! Why? Well, not because they, too, desire a perfect smile. No, rather they love their owners, and a retainer will have the wearer’s scent all over it. So, to cut a long story short, if you own a dog, keep your retainer beyond its reach.

So, what if I lose my retainer?

Anyway, if you’ve misplaced your retainer — or your dog ate it — it’s not the end of the world. There is a misconception that your teeth will hurriedly return to where they were before you started your orthodontic treatment. This is not the case. However, particularly if your orthodontist removed your braces recently (within two years), it is important to get a new retainer quickly, ideally within a week.

Should you eventually find your retainer, you may discover that it no longer fits that well, depending on for how long it was missing. In this case, your orthodontist can usually make adjustments.

Look after your retainer

If you bend a wire on your retainer, you can push your teeth out of line. So, like with braces, it’s important to take care of your retainer and check that the wire doesn’t become loose or distorted. Eating the wrong kind of food is a sure way to cause problems, so stay away from anything that is hard or sticky, like toffee or corn on the cob.

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Turner Lim Orthodontists’ Xmas round up

Christmas is just around the corner. And so, we thought the time is right to look back at some of our favourite posts.

Our holiday schedule

We all deserve a break — even orthodontists! So, before we reminisce, to follow are the days that we are closed during the holidays:

  • Last day: Friday the 21st of December (close at 12 pm)
  • Reopening: Monday the 14th of January.

Look after your braces

It’s easy to let your guard down during the holidays. You’ll probably try different foods and slip out of your daily routine. We’d hate for a braces a malfunction to spoil your holiday fun, so here are some things you can do to ensure you don’t run into any orthodontic problems:

  • Get a braces ‘warrant of fitness’ — if you’ll be out of town for a while, see your orthodontist before you leave to make sure everything is in place.
  • Put together a holiday hygiene kit — this should include a travel toothbrush, dental floss and orthodontic wax.
  • Avoid certain foods — foods to avoid include corn on the cob, nuts and boiled lollies.

For more information about preparing for the holidays, read this post.

3 nearly invisible braces

Is your New Year’s resolution to do something about your crooked teeth? Good on you! If you’re an adult, though, you may be worried about how you will look wearing braces. After all, looks are important in the grown-up world. In reality, increasingly more people are getting braces later in life thanks largely to the several nearly invisible options of braces available. In this post, we explain three of these options.

Do you have to wear a retainer?

In case you don’t know, the purpose of a retainer, usually made or wire or plastic, is to hold your teeth in place after your orthodontist has removed your braces.

Around 10 – 15 years ago, many orthodontists didn’t tell their patients to wear a retainer. However, research shows that there is always the chance that your teeth will move post-treatment. So, ideally, you should wear a retainer for a couple of nights a week for a lifetime.

In this post, we explain:

  • How retainers work
  • For how long you should wear them
  • What happens if you don’t wear a retainer for a short period.

Merry Xmas

Finally, on behalf of the team at Turner Lim, have a brilliant Xmas and New Year!

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What are self-ligating brackets & are they faster?

Self-ligating brackets (SLBs) have been around for many years. In fact, a gentleman called Charles E Boyd first introduced them in 1933. In this post, we explain what SLBs are and whether they do as claimed — offer faster treatment.

What are self-ligating brackets?

Standard metal braces consist of brackets that are attached to a patient’s teeth, and an archwire is threaded through the brackets using o-rings — little rubber bands — to hold it in place.  Self-ligating brackets, on the other hand, feature a small gate at the front that secures the archwire when closed. SLBs apply less friction to a patient’s teeth, and no o-rings are required.

The purported benefits of self-ligating brackets

Here are some of the benefits that manufacturers of SLBs claim:

  • Faster treatment because less friction allows teeth to move more freely
  • More comfortable due to less friction
  • Longer intervals between appointments
  • Better results

The benefits sound impressive — who doesn’t want faster treatment? However, many orthodontists, including us at Turner Lim, remain unconvinced that SBLs are any faster or better than other braces. In fact, a recent study suggests that SLBs could be slower than traditional braces by up to two months. Also, SLBs are not the most cost-effective option.

Should you avoid self-ligating brackets?

No. If fast treatment is important to you, SLBs are worth a try. Just be aware that the evidence to back up that they work faster is ‘thin on the ground.’

One of the better-known self ligating brackets is the Damon System. We have used this system in the past at our West Auckland clinic but feel it’s quite bulky — more compact brackets are easier for our patients. We do currently use a clear SLB  because it doesn’t have o-rings that discolour over time due to food. It also has a lower profile than the Damon System and so is more comfortable for our patients.

What determines the speed of orthodontic treatment?

It is claimed that SLBs apply less friction and, therefore, work faster than other braces because they allow patients’ teeth to move more freely. Yes, the initial alignment of teeth can be rapid, but the roots still require time to move into their correct positions.

In our experience, several factors determine the speed of orthodontic treatment, not least the skill of your orthodontist — her treatment plan, bracket placement and selection of wires and mechanics, etc. There are other factors, too, including:

  • Cooperation of patients — whether they wear the elastics as instructed.
  • Biology — every patient is different.

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