Orthodontic Appliance Care and Use
The care and use of orthodontic appliances can seem complicated when the devices are new to you. But with a little bit of training and patience, you can be a pro in no time.
To this end, we have put together a list or tips for using and maintaining your orthodontic appliances so that you can minimize the duration of your orthodontic treatment and get the most out of your time with us.
Orthodontic Appliance Care and Use: Elastics
Elastics are essentially rubber bands attached to brackets, usually between the upper and lower or front and back teeth, applying tension and causing teeth to move. Elastics can be used in many ways depending upon the treatment goals. Please keep in mind the following tips for proper care for your elastics:
- Elastics move the teeth in a direction they could not be moved using braces alone. Your teeth and jaws may be tender during the first few days elastics are worn. This is normal, and the tenderness should begin to disappear within a week. If it persists, please call our office. Rinsing with hot salt water will help reduce the tenderness.
- Your elastics may be difficult to put on at first, but this will become easier with practice. You may remove your elastics only when eating or brushing your teeth. Leave them in during snacking.
- Be sure to replace the elastics with new ones immediately after meals and brushing. Part-time wear does not move teeth, but it does cause prolonged discomfort.
- Change your elastics routinely, even if they are not broken. After a while, elastics lose their strength. Change them after each meal and before bedtime. If one elastic breaks, replace both sides.
- Carry extra elastics with you at all times. If you don’t have enough to last until your next appointment, please stop by our office and pick up more or call us and we can send more to you.
- Before you leave our office, be sure you understand exactly where to hook the elastics. Hooking them incorrectly can be worse than not wearing them at all, as your teeth might move in the opposite direction. If you ever have any questions on how to wear your elastics, please do not hesitate to ask.
Orthodontic Appliance Care and Use: Palatal Expander
The palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and prevent regression. The orthodontist installs your palatal expander by following these steps:
- Step 1 – After you are seated comfortably in one of our state-of-the-art examination rooms, the orthodontist will gently tip your head back.
- Step 2 – They will place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.
- Step 3 – Pushing the key towards the back of the mouth, the orthodontist will rotate the fender until the new hole appears. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.
- Step 4 – By pushing back and down towards the tongue, the orthodontist will remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key will be visible.
Orthodontic Appliance Care and Use: Retainers
Another essential appliance for excellent oral health are retainers. Retainer maintenance tips include:
- Take your retainer out when eating, and always put it back in its case.
- Clean the retainer thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque and eliminates odors. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used but do not take the place of brushing.
- Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to it faster.
- Retainers are breakable, so treat yours with care. If your retainer gets lost or broken, call us immediately.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer or believe it needs adjusting, call us.
- Do not try to adjust it yourself.
- Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
- Retainer replacements are expensive, but with proper care, they will last for years.
- Remove your retainer when you go swimming.
- Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.