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82% of adults believe straight teeth can lead to a more successful life. But how many do something about it? Far less than 82%, that’s for sure.
Once people get out of high school, they tend to forget about things such as braces and retainers. Ironically, adults often need them more than children and teenagers. The older you are, the more likely your teeth have shifted out of position.
But that’s not the only reason you may want to wear a retainer. Why are your teeth shifting, and what can you do about it? Here are five signs you need a retainer.
1. You’re Getting Older
Braces and the retainers that come with them are usually associated with teenagers. But the truth is, your teeth continue to shift throughout your life. There’s a good chance that when you reach your 40s, you’ll be the victim of teeth shifting with age.
What gives? It’s the result of two ongoing processes.
First, your lower jaw grows forward and outward all your life. This extension brings your lower teeth along for the ride in a process known as mesial drift.
In the best scenario, you may only have to deal with an underbite. However, your lower teeth can grind against those above, causing them to split, bend, or shift in a crooked manner.
Not only does your lower jaw extend as you age, but it shrinks as well. With less space available, your previously perfect smile may become unaligned.
A retainer is your best line of defense against age-related teeth shifting. Wait too long and braces may be your only option.
2. You Had Braces
Speaking of braces, they aren’t perfect. Sure, they can reorient the most crooked of smiles with enough patience. But once the braces come off, a retainer is an essential tool to stop them from naturally shifting back to the way they were before.
When your braces are removed, your orthodontist will encourage you to use a retainer every day for an extended amount of time. Once you pass this honeymoon period, you’ll still have to wear a retainer every night… well, forever.
That’s a long time to keep things straight. Many adults eventually decide they no longer need to wear a retainer. After all, their teeth are fine.
Of course, without the retainer, teeth shifting will occur. If you ever used braces, be vigilant and wear your retainer as prescribed.
3. You Grind Your Teeth
Teeth clenching is a natural response to stressful situations. Thing is, you could be doing it in your sleep. 8% of American adults suffer from nighttime teeth grinding, also known as sleep bruxism.
Next to poor oral hygiene, this is one of the worst things you can do to your teeth. Constant grinding — that you can’t control — wears away the enamel and then the tooth itself. This destructive habit will eventually lead to your teeth shifting, in addition to painful and expensive dental complications.
You may not even know that you grind your teeth at night. A common symptom of bruxism is a sore or painful jaw, but there are many other signs. Your orthodontist can also detect them during a standard exam.
If you don’t know you’re doing it, how can you stop grinding? You can’t. But getting a retainer for sleeping can shield your teeth and prevent further damage.
4. You Have Poor Dental Hygiene
Trouble brushing your teeth every day? You may have to deal with more than cavities down the line.
Serious bone loss can occur as a result of untreated conditions such as periodontal disease. Not only is this a painful situation but it’s an ugly one, too.
As your bone density diminishes, more space becomes available between your teeth. Plus, bone loss makes it easier for teeth to shift as the foundation is greatly weakened.
These two complications alone can destroy even the straightest smiles.
If you’re concerned about your pearly whites, the best thing you can do is take care of them with proper maintenance. Have you fallen behind? There’s always room to improve.
As you work on your dental hygiene with your dentist, using a retainer can minimize the shifting that occurs from serious oral conditions. Of course, a retainer alone can’t compensate for poorly-kept teeth.
5. Your Family Has Crooked Teeth
If your family members have crooked smiles, it may not be the learned result of poor dental hygiene. Certain genetics can put you at an increased risk of teeth shifting as you age. In short, it’s just something that runs in the family.
Keep a close eye on your parents and older siblings. When all their teeth noticeably shift throughout the years, there’s a good chance yours will too. Using a retainer before serious shifting begins is a surefire way to avoid the same fate.
Of course, it may be that your family doesn’t practice good dental hygiene. You can ask them how they take care of their teeth if you’re not sure. But in either case, getting a retainer is a good idea regardless of your genetic predisposition.
Prevent Age-Related Teeth Shifting
If you’re worried about your teeth shifting, don’t be. Using a retainer as part of a nightly routine will keep everything in order. That said, many people avoid getting a retainer due to the cost and frequent dental visits.
But thanks to Sporting Smiles, you no longer have to leave the house to make a custom retainer. We send you a mold, and you send it back to us in return for the real thing. Check out our orthodontic retainers today.