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All Posts in Category: Braces & Retainers

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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A woman wearing lingual dental braces.

3 nearly invisible dental braces that adults love

These days, a growing number of adults wish to improve their teeth later in life. There could be a couple of reasons for this: orthodontics is more affordable and available than it once was, and baby boomers feel younger and want a look to match. One thing most adults are not too keen on, though, is visible braces

Yes, wearing braces can feel like being transported back to school. When you’re a teenager, they are a ‘badge of honour’ — a rite of passage. As an adult, though, they’re not so cool. After all, in the ‘grown-up’ world, we are, unfortunately, judged on our appearance. Looks are important — which, of course, is why you might be considering braces in the first place.

Well, we have some good news for you: If you want to get braces, there are less obtrusive options available, including lingual braces.

Lingual braces

Most dental braces fit on the outside of a patient’s teeth and are difficult to hide. Lingual braces, however, sit on the inside and are almost invisible, which makes them ideal for image-conscious adults.

Unfortunately, as many orthodontists are reluctant to fit lingual braces, they are not readily available. You see, compared to other types of braces, there is a bunch of stuff (like there being a smaller arc to work on) that makes fitting and maintaining lingual braces more mechanically tricky.

Anyway, in recent times — thanks to Alla, an old hand in the art, joining the team — Turner Lim has become more involved in lingual orthodontics.

Like many things in life, though, with lingual braces, as well as pros, there are a couple of cons to be aware of:

  • Mind your tongue. Because the braces are on the inside, they can affect tongue movement and take a bit of getting used to.
  • Your budget. Lingual braces are a premium product and, therefore, cost between 30% to 50% more than standard options.

Other discrete dental braces

Apart from lingual braces, there are two alternative non-obtrusive types to consider.

  • Invisalign®: With this system, there are no restrictions on what you can eat and drink. It consists of almost invisible computer simulation-generated templates (aligners), which are changed every 1 to 2 weeks. Your orthodontist will provide a new set at each check-up appointment (usually 8 to 10 weeks). For Invisalign®, the length of time between appointments is longer than many other treatments, which makes it easier to balance other commitments. Invisalign® isn’t effective for some bite issues — although advancements mean the bites types it isn’t suitable for continue to become fewer. In fact, for some bites, Invisalign® is the best option. For tricky work, and to make treatment as efficient, smooth and attractive as possible, we may first use a combination of fixed braces on the back teeth and Invisalign® on the front — there are so many options.”
  • Ceramic braces: Like standard types, ceramic braces have a small gate to hold an archwire in place and are not susceptible to the elastic ring changing colour with your latte or curry. Due to being made of a translucent material — some even come with tooth-coloured wires — ceramic braces are less visible than standard metal braces and even Invisalign®.

Read more about the different types of braces we offer.

We understand that aesthetics are particularly important for our adult patients, which is why we don’t charge adult patients extra for ceramic or Invisalign® braces. Also, with all ceramic and lingual treatments, we routinely use SureSmile on adults to achieve optimum results and treatment times.

So, there you have it: If you’re worried about what braces will look like, there are options available. If you enjoyed this post, please share.

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tom cruise smiling

Do you want a smile like Tom Cruise? It’s never too late

If I say “Tom Cruise,” what first springs to mind? His flawless white teeth, perhaps? Well, if so, it may surprise you to learn that Thomas Cruise Mapother the Fourth (yes, that’s his real name) wasn’t born with a perfect smile. He saw an orthodontist.

Apparently, Mr Cruise’s teeth used to be pretty bad, and he was spotted wearing braces as recently as 2002. Actually, lots of ‘beautiful people’, including Nicholas Cage, Gwen Stefani and Faith Hill, have seen an orthodontist as adults in pursuit of that ‘perfect smile.’

So, where am I heading with this post? Well, you don’t have to be born with perfect teeth to make significant improvements.

A confident smile

Studies show that people are actually more likely to succeed in their personal and professional lives if they have good teeth. Why? Well, Tom Cruise knows it, you know it, I know it; we are judged by our looks.

As unfair as this may be, people make assumptions. That’s human nature. For example, if your lower teeth protrude, you may be perceived as aggressive; if there’s a gap between your top-front teeth, people may think you’re not too clever.

Of course, when it comes to success (or lack of it) it’s possible that self-perception plays a big part —when we project confidence, people are more likely to have confidence in us.

It’s never too late for braces

These days, if you want to improve your teeth, there’s not much stopping you. As celebrities, like Tom Cruise, show, orthodontic treatment isn’t reserved for teenagers. You’re never too old. At Turner Lim, we’ve treated patients in their 60s!

Teeth move over time

Some adults come to us with crooked teeth, despite having worn braces when they were younger. This may seem strange, but it’s understandable. Teeth move over time, and 20 – 30 years ago, many orthodontists didn’t instruct their patients to wear retainers post treatment — they didn’t think they were necessary. However, we now know that retainers prevent teeth from moving back to their original positions once braces have been removed.

Is treatment expensive?

Orthodontic treatment isn’t as expensive as you might think. Depending on your budget, there are several options available, and most orthodontists offer payment plans.

Braces can be discrete

Of course, as an adult, you’re probably concerned about how you will look with braces. The good news is that you needn’t look like ‘Metal Micky’. Modern braces are not as conspicuous as they used to be. Invisalign®, for example, uses aligners that are almost invisible, and ceramic braces are made of translucent material and use tooth-coloured wires.

In reality, an orthodontist may not be able to make your teeth quite as perfect as Tom Cruise’s. However, they can get pretty close.

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