Dentists and Retainers?
October 10, 2018 2:02 PM   Subscribe

15+ years after finishing childhood braces and 10 years since I last wore my upper retainer, my teeth have started shifting a bit and I'd like to correct or at least stop it. My dentist offered to make me retainer for $300. Will a dentist be able to handle this adequately, or should I really see an orthodontist?

The shifting is pretty minimal and really I'd be fine with how my teeth look now except it is annoyingly difficult to floss a certain tooth, and I don't want them to shift much further. I realize I can just schedule a consult with an orthodontist, but that won't tell me whether a dentist can just take care of it. And do orthodontists "upsell" people into getting another round of braces when a retainer would be fine?
posted by acidic to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would feel comfortable getting a retainer from a dentist. I did this when I was in a situation similar to yours. It's basically the same process as creating a night guard, which dentists also do.

If I were getting braces or other work done to actually shift my teeth/bite, I would want to go to an orthodontist.
posted by AndrewInDC at 2:18 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

This isn't a terrible idea for other reasons than you might be thinking and your dentist can do an adequate job as long as they are taking new molds and making you a retainer based on your current teeth alignment and not based on previous molds that would cause your teeth to shift more.

Shifting teeth results in looser gums, which can let all the little bacteria that cause tooth decay under the gums in to have a nice feast and deteriorate your roots even if everything else looks healthy and you've never ever had a cavity. If you stop your teeth from moving further, you can head this off. I'm not sure about whether an orthodontist will upsell to braces, but as there seems to be a correlation between having braces and having periodontitis that seems to be worse if braces are had in adulthood (not sure how reputable that website is but it repeats information my periodontist has told me) I would steer clear of that discussion altogether. There is also apparently a genetic element of this so some people can be more susceptible to periodontitis than others.

Source: this happened to me (made worse by jaw clenching when I'm sleeping causing more teeth to shift) and I've recently gone through two bone graft surgeries to replace said lost bone and these are not fun (and I have two more to look forward to, hooray). I have also never had a cavity so this was all a great surprise. So fun.
posted by urbanlenny at 2:33 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you are just looking to have your teeth stay in the position they are in right now, the removable retainer that a general dentist will prescribe (any work that goes to a lab is a prescription) will be virtually identical to what an orthodontist will order.

In addition, what I will often do is try to make the most of an appliance by addressing, if possible, night time grinding habits or even apnea. so there are sometimes advantages to have a general dentist make you a retainer.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:00 PM on October 10, 2018

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