I know it’s a funny title for a post, but that’s exactly how I feel about it. This is an exciting post about teeth cracks, broken molars and cool invisible retainers haha! You can tell by that intro that I have not been blessed in the teeth department. I get cavities so easily, I grind my teeth at night which means I have these hairline cracks (freaky!) and my teeth are overcrowded, so despite braces (twice!) they are perpetually moving around. The pressure of night grinding doesn’t help with the teeth moving around either. I am so happy that I found some good dentists in Manila and Jakarta that helped me address my problems before I moved to Berlin. The advancement in dentistry is amazing and I am so glad to get rid of my old traditional retainers!
I’ve had braces twice in my life. Once to straighten my teeth and fix overbite (a bad bite can cause teeth grinding, early toothless, gum problems, etc) and another to try to giving space and help my impacted molar come out. Normal people would normally have their impacted molars surgically removed by of course, I have the worse luck in the teeth department! My impacted molar is so deep that it was touching a nerve and the tooth is L-shaped so the dental surgeon would have to cut it into 3 parts and there was a risk that a part of my tooth would not be retrieved (meaning get lost somewhere inside my gums). Because it touched a nerve there was also a 50% chance of partial paralysis. What the?! And a possible side effect? Unconsciously drooling while talking of course! Ewwww.
I consulted several dental surgeons on this and decided that the drooling just wasn’t worth the risk. The surgeon told me that if it happens, I could always have micro surgery afterwards, but it was not guaranteed to work. So I went to one of the best orthodontists in Philippines and she said we could try moving my teeth forward to encourage the molar to rise a bit. It didn’t help that my teeth was crooked again because I was silly and didn’t wear my retainers after braces the first time around.
I want to emphasize here that braces aren’t just for vanity, but can help prevent dental problems later on.
The Importance of Retainers
Kids if the dentist tells you to wear your retainers, you should listen to the professional. I was told by my dentist that once you had braces, you must wear retainers afterwards for life or else your teeth will move again. After all your teeth were crooked for a reason so once the braces are removed those same factors (i.e. overcrowding) will exert the same pressure on your teeth to move again.
The problem is I really, really hate retainers. I hate the way they look (that metal wire!). I hate the way they feel in my mouth and make me talk funny. If you don’t like something you tend not to do it. So I tried looking for other options.
Retainers don’t also help against teeth grinding. I was totally freaked out when I looked at my teeth closely and saw that I had so many cracks. The last straw came when I actually woke up to discover that the side of my molar broke off. ACK. Yes a big chunk of my molar was missing during the Lebaran break in Jakarta. The timing was impeccable. Just when everyone in Jakarta including my dentist was out of town! Walking around with a broken molar for a few days is definitely not a pleasant experience. I was determined to prevent all future broken-tooth-incidents!
I realised that my grandmother indeed had her lower teeth ground to stumps. Ack! First I tried Bruxoguard Soft. But it didn’t function as a retainer to keep my teeth in place at night. My dentist in Jakarta, Dr. Ruby advised me to get a harder mouth guard because she felt that the soft Bruxoguard would encourage my jaws to grind more in my sleep. She mentioned another option, a retainer with a mouth splint, which is essentially like a wire retainer with a thick hard plastic between the molars to prevent your teeth from hitting each other.
My dentist in Manila, Dr. Laura of Primea Dental Clinic said I could also do do:
- Bonded or fixed retainers – These are great for people who hate the look of traditional retainers because it is bonded to the back of your teeth and non-removable. They can only be used in the lower teeth and they are hard to floss. This was not an option for me because 1) I was moving posts and wasn’t sure if I had access to a dentist who can repair the retainers if it got damaged damaged. It’s important to fix any damage to this retainer asap and 2) it is not advisable to teeth grinders like me.
- Invisible retainers – cheaper than traditional retainers and answered many of my problems with traditional retainers. I had them made at Affinity Dental Clinic in Makati and I am so happy with them.
Similar to Invisalign aligners, these invisible retainers are also called Essix retainers or vacuum formed retainers. They looks so much better and feel much more comfortable than traditional retainers. Once I got used to them I can almost forget that they are there. I can wear them when I am out and people will barely they are there.
The best thing is that, at night, the pressure of my teeth grinding is on them instead of my poor teeth.
Because they will wear down after some time, I made sure to order two sets from Dr. Laura. And last week I just retired my first set. Hopefully the second set will last till I get back to Manila in 2015! It’s so scary to see the effects of my nightly teeth grinding on my first set of invisible retainers (below)!
Invisible Retainers – BEFORE
Invisible Retainers – AFTER
Caring for Invisible Retainers
Dr. Laura gave me some tips to keep my retainers in good condition (UPDATED AUG 2019):
- Place a few drops of Nature to Nurture dishwashing soap in their container.
- Place clean tap water – enough so that the retainers is totally covered – in the container.
- Drop in the retainers and soak them in while you aren’t using them.
- Do not use toothpaste or mouthwash to avoid yellowing.
- Never ever place them in tissue paper or you might throw them away by accident (this has happened to me haha!)
- When it’s time to use them, just run it under running water to remove all the soap, and if needed use your toothbrush to brush of any stubborn residue. Normally I don’t need to do this as it washes of clean.
I thought this had some good retainer care tips as well.
I hope my post inspired you to take care of your pearly whites!
Please note that I am not a dental professional. Only someone who loves her teeth and is doing her best to keep them in the best possible condition for as long as I possibly can. My grandmother has lost most of her teeth and I don’t want the same thing when I am old. I wanted to tell you my story and let you know that there are so many options out there, if you are dentally-challenged like moi. Consult a reputable dental professional and don’t take my word for it!
I have had good experiences with these dentists in Manila and Jakarta. I also went to this Spanish Speaking clinic in Berlin.
My Dentist is Dr. Laura Urzola-Maclang a Latina, so if you are a Spanish speaking expa in Manila, you will be very comfortable with her.