You spent lots of time and money for orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth and give you a beautiful smile. Now, you wear your Essix retainer to help retain that smile. In many ways, your retainer is insurance for your teeth. But, in order to keep your teeth in place and healthy, you must take care of your retainer! Without proper care, your retainer can CONTRIBUTE to cavities and other dental problems! How can you keep your Essix retainer from causing cavities? Let’s look a little closer at your retainer and how they relate to cavities.
How Essix Retainers Fit Over Your Teeth
Unlike Hawley retainers that have wires around your teeth and a hard, acrylic material that covers your palate, Essix retainers completely cover your teeth. For this reason, they are often referred to as overlay retainers. Molded specifically to the unique shape of your mouth, Essix retainers help your teeth retain their new position while still being aesthetically pleasing. Because they fit so snug, almost like a glove for your teeth, many find them much more comfortable and easier to comply with.
How Improper Care Contributes to Cavities
While the design of Essix retainers make them more comfortable and less noticeable to others, there is also a downside. That snug fit to your teeth can become a blanket, trapping cavity-causing bacteria next to your teeth.
Your mouth is filled with bacteria. Some bacteria are good and help aid in digestion. Other bacteria contribute to tooth decay and the development of cavities. The reason you are taught to brush and floss your teeth daily and after you eat is to help remove bacteria and the food particles they feed on.
Once you place your Essix retainer in your mouth, it soon becomes covered with the same bacteria. And because your retainer comes into direct contact with your teeth, it is likely to trap that bacteria. Cavities occur when bacteria and plaque break down the enamel of a tooth, creating holes. These holes are cavities. If you aren’t cleaning your retainer as recommended, this bacteria can lead to cavities and tooth damage.
But there is no reason to give up the comfort and high-quality Essix retainers provide!! To reduce the risk of plaque and cavities, you just need to take your oral hygiene and retainer care SERIOUSLY!
A study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics in 2018 showed that Essix wearers report a much better experience, higher self-perception, and more comfort with an Essix retainer. Unfortunately, the same study showed that those wearing Essix retainers had higher levels of plaque and gingival indexes. In addition, the retainers had increased accumulations of plaque and calculus. It’s important to note that with proper care, most retainers will last for 2 years before you need a replacement.
How to Prevent Cavities When Wearing an Essix Retainer
Good oral hygiene is always important, whether you wear a retainer or not. But when you wear an Essix retainer, it is even more important. Brushing and flossing your teeth in the morning and evening is a great place to start, but you should also consider brushing after eating and before placing your retainer back in place. You should also brush your teeth after removing your retainer to help remove any bacteria that your retainer trapped in place.
In addition, regular retainer care is essential to reduce the bacteria trapped against your teeth, as well as to reduce the buildup of bacteria and plaque on your Essix retainer. IF you are unable to remove the plaque and buildup, it may be time for a replacement retainer. SportingSmiles can help with our high-quality Essix retainers for less than you would pay through your dentist. For more information on replacement retainers, visit SportingSmiles today.
For information on full Essix retainer care, check out our blogs “How to Clean My Retainer” and “Retainer Care 101: How to Properly Care for Your Retainers.”