Protecting your teeth is a lifelong task, one that requires both regular preventative care as well as active treatment should a problem arise. As an orthodontist with experience in correcting misalignments and other dental issues using the latest orthodontic techniques, I have come to find that retainers play an integral role in both rectifying problems as well as maintaining a positive result. Whether the retainer is being used to maintain proper spacing of the teeth after orthodontic treatment or to treat a dental condition itself such as TMJ or tooth grinding, wearing the retainer as often as possible is crucial to achieving the desired outcome. For this reason, I encourage my patients, particularly those who suffer from grinding or clenching, to not only wear their retainers at night, but also during the day for as many hours as possible. NYC teeth grinding cases are fairly common, especially in a fast-paced environment and culture where stress levels are often high. My job, as a teeth grinding specialist in NYC, is to help you avoid costly restorative and cosmetic treatments that could cost up to $50,000 later in life.
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a relatively common condition that is often caused by missing or misaligned teeth and can be exacerbated during periods of high stress in a person’s life. Grinding or clenching can have a number of negative effects on the short and long-term dental health of a patient. While infrequent tooth grinding will often have few, if any, negative repercussions, a chronic problem can cause the teeth to become worn down, to fracture, or develop abfractions. Without the proper prevention and treatment, the result is often expensive and painful procedures such as root canals, dentures, crowns, bridges, and/or dental implants. Along with problems with the teeth themselves, prolonged grinding can cause jaw pain and even facial deformation and hearing loss in extreme cases.
The “Daytainer” Saves The Day
The daytainer concept came to mind because I wear my Vivera® or Essix Retainer all day, everyday. Why, you ask? Would you ride a bicycle around Manhattan without a helmet? Hopefully not! Clear retainers protect your teeth during the daily grind of living in New York City. Some patients (you know who you are), are initially apprehensive about wearing their daytainer, especially when they have board room meetings or interviews on TV. I tell them it’s not different than when cowboys would check their gun at the saloon. You can check your retainer into its case when you have meetings or presentations. Retainers are common orthodontic appliances. In fact, they are worn by almost all children and adults who have received treatments to correct tooth or jaw misalignments. Along with maintaining the proper placement of teeth after braces are removed, retainers can serve a whole host of other, lesser-known, purposes as well. Retainers have also been shown to be helpful at closing small gaps between the teeth, reducing and even correcting certain speech impediments, as well as alleviating other medical problems including bruxism.
A Series of Treatments to Manage Clenching and Grinding
When tooth clenching and grinding have become a problem, I will usually recommend a series of treatments, many of which can be performed at home without medical intervention. Evidence shows that reducing stress, eliminating caffeine from your diet, and working to actively relax the muscles of the jaw whenever possible can have a positive impact. In addition, a retainer can be highly useful at keeping the muscles relaxed. With frequent grinding, the joints and muscles in the jaw and mouth can cause discomfort and even chronic pain with time. Retainers, when used properly, can actually help to reduce the tension in the jaw by forcing the mouth to remain slightly open. With the jaw unable to close completely, grinding and clenching of the teeth can be greatly reduced if not prevented entirely.
While it is true that the majority of people who grind or clench their teeth do so at night, there are also many who continue to do so during waking hours as well. For this reason, I recommend that my patients with bruxism continue to wear their retainers during the day as much as possible. While this doesn’t mean that your daily life should be disrupted, keeping your orthodontic appliance in for as many hours as possible will minimize the negative effects of the condition. Again, if you are going to a business meeting, a lunch with a friend, or readying yourself for a photo session, feel free to remove your retainer to make your daily activities easier to perform and more enjoyable. However, when at all possible, keep your retainer in your mouth. The longer you have it in, the less clenching and grinding can take place.
As with any orthodontic treatment, the desired result is ultimately to achieve and maintain a smile that is both beautiful and healthy. Your smile is an important part of who you are and, as an orthodontist, nothing matters more to me and my staff than providing you with the care you need to feel confident, secure, and happy with this aspect of your being. If you have any questions at all or would like to schedule an appointment to see us, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.