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Can Retainers Move Teeth Back

by Clara Wynn
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Can Retainers Move Teeth Back

Can Retainers Move Teeth Back? Retainers are used by people who have lost a significant amount of permanent teeth and need them replaced. They’re typically made from materials like acrylics and rubber that can be custom-fitted to each patient’s mouth so they won’t fall out accidentally in between appointments. The retainers help keep the remaining natural teeth in place and prevent shifting forward — which could cause crowding. However, if you wear your retainer incorrectly, it may not provide enough support to keep all your teeth where they belong. In this case, your dentist will recommend using another type of device called a nightguard (also known as a night splint). Nightguards are usually plastic devices worn over your upper front teeth during sleep that hold your lower front teeth firmly into your jaw. Because these devices work on different principles than retainers, we’ll discuss how they differ next.

Night Guards vs. Retainers

Unlike retainers, night guards don’t actually hold your teeth in place. Instead, they rest on top of your gums and help keep the space created for missing teeth open. Nightguards also come with built-in flaps that protect your cheeks and lips, leaving only your nose visible when wearing one. These devices often feature small openings at the tip designed for breathing through while sleeping, although some models allow your tongue to wiggle around freely without making contact with the roof of your mouth. Some patients prefer to use both types of devices together because they offer additional protection against food particles.

If you’ve ever had trouble getting a retainer to stay put, you know that getting a new one custom-fitted requires several trips to your dentist. That’s because unlike other medical appliances such as orthodontic braces, retainers aren’t mass-produced. Your dentist must take special care to make sure the fit is right after measuring your bite and ensuring everything fits correctly. But even if you do get a good fit, there’s still no guarantee your retainer won’t slip down your throat while you sleep, causing irritation or choking hazards. It’s possible to end up swallowing your retainer, especially if you lose one overnight.

When it comes to night guards, however, fitting isn’t really required since they’re already customized to your face. You should never feel any discomfort or notice gaps caused by the wrong size night guard. And since most contain an airway hole at the bottom, they won’t catch on anything inside your mouth while you sleep.
Both retainers and night guards can be removed temporarily during meals and oral hygiene procedures, but they shouldn’t be left on while eating solids, rinsed too long, or subjected to extreme temperatures.

While retaining teeth can be helpful, there are instances in which removing them altogether may be better. Read on to find out why.

Removing Retainers

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends keeping retainers until all your permanent teeth fully develop. This means that children should continue wearing retainers until age 21, and adults should consider wearing them until about age 40. After that point, your dentist will likely remove them because they’ll begin falling out naturally due to aging or tooth decay. For those who decide to leave retainers on their teeth permanently, though, they can cause problems with gum health. When retainers line up with the crowns of our front teeth, they force our gums inward, creating pockets that bacteria can thrive in.

In addition, when you wear retainers, you might miss out on important oral hygiene activities like brushing, flossing, and regular checkups with your dentist. A study published in 2007 found that more than half of adult participants were less active with oral hygiene while wearing retainers. Since retainers create hard-to-reach areas behind the front two rows of teeth, people tend to avoid cleaning under them because doing so would require bending over uncomfortably.

However, if you’re comfortable with taking off your retainer to brush, floss, and visit your dentist regularly, then maybe you’d benefit from removing yours. Otherwise, talk to your dentist before deciding whether to keep them on. If your retainer does shift position, you can try moving it yourself or having someone else adjust it for you. Or, if you want to go completely removable, consult with your dentist about trying a clear retainer instead. Clear retainers look similar to traditional ones, except they’re thinner and easier to clean.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, Americans spend almost 30 percent of their time asleep; yet many people toss and turn throughout the night, worrying, dreaming, or experiencing vivid dreams. While it sounds counterintuitive, research has shown that people who wore retainers slept significantly longer than those who didn’t.

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