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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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Straighten up and bite right with removable orthodontic devices

Aug 15, 2012

Brace yourselves! In August our blog is taking a healthy bite out of the straight facts about orthodontia.  We're exploring what orthodontia is, how it helps re-position teeth with different ortho devices and how the corrective action it provides aid in the development of winning smiles.

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In last week’s blog post we shared how orthodontists use fixed appliances like braces and space maintainers to place gentle pressure on teeth and jaws to move teeth and retrain jaw muscles. Remember orthodontia's short-term pain, long-term gain philosophy: the overall goal is to aid in the development of winning smiles that can last a lifetime.

In today’s post let’s look at removable orthodontic appliances like aligners and removable retainers. Think of it as portable oral accessorizing for your teeth.

Aligners – serial aligners are increasingly used by orthodontists to move teeth in the same way that braces work, but without metal wires and brackets. Also known as invisible trays, aligners are much less noticeable than traditional braces and can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing. Aligners are an effective alternative to traditional braces but are only an option for those needing simple orthodontic work.

Hockey and rugby players may not be good candidates.

Removable Space Maintainers – these devices do the same thing as the fixed space maintainers we wrote about last week. Remember? Flashback: If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer with an acrylic base fits over the jaw. The space maintainer uses plastic or wire branches between specific teeth until the permanent tooth erupts.

The removable space maintainers do the same thing as fixed space maintainers except they’re - well, removable – like cocktail earrings or a cheap tattoo.

Removable Retainers – Didn’t I just write this? Nooo…Retainers are similar to space maintainers but rather than keeping a space open for an erupting tooth, these devices are worn on the roof of the mouth and prevent the teeth shifting to their previous position. Removable retainers are sometimes modified and used to prevent thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. 

Splints (Bite plates, mouth guards) – Worn on the top or lower jaw, this device helps train the jaw to close in a more favorable position. Splints are often used to treat temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) to ease muscle tension and stabilize the jaw. Splints are worn mostly at night to prevent the clenching or grinding of the teeth while sleeping.

My wife says I do this in the daytime during family visits after I’ve promised not to talk politics.

Lip and Cheek Bumpers – Lip and cheek muscles can exert unhealthy pressure on teeth so these “buffers” help relieve that pressure by keeping the lips or cheeks separated from the teeth.

Of course a big wad of chewing tobacco will do the same thing but five out of five orthodontists cornered at a recent convention advise against using “dip” or “spit.”

Palatial Expander – widens the arch of the upper jaw by fitting a plastic plate over the roof of the mouth. Screws apply outward pressure to the plate, forcing the joints in the palate bones to open lengthwise, widening the palatial area.

Not to be confused with the lip plates commonly worn by cool Surmi and Mursi kids in Ethiopia.

Headgear – slows the growth of the upper jaw by pulling back the front teeth while holding the back teeth stationary. On first glance this may sound like a medieval torture contraption or what might happen in a bar fight, but fortunately headgear isn’t used often and when it is it usually only has to be worn at night while sleeping or at home.  The device is a strap attached to braces from the back of the head and attached in front to a metal wire, or face bow. Headgear is only recommended when extra force is required to move the teeth and jaws. 

Of course, those needing this treatment can always consider the bar fight scenario, but if it were me I’d rather trust an orthodontist than the busted up guy with a fat lip needing tongue stitches. In our next post we’ll talk with a young man that began wearing braces this summer and see how he deals with the short-term sacrifice for personal long-term gain.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk, and remember: A laugh is a smile that bursts.

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Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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