My Son Got a Wire Retainer That Does Not Allow Him to Close His Mouth at Night?

Hello, My son got a wire retainer that has about 5mm of plastic at the back and prevents him from closing his mouth. His doctor told him that it is on purpose to maintain his bite. Because of the plastic none of the teeth touch and the mouth is very uncomfortable. Also it has some metal loops at the front like a tongue guard? My fear is that keeping his mouth open all night will damage the joint. Please let me know how common and safe is this type of retainer. Regards, Stella

Doctor Answers 3

Communication is key

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Retainers are designed to help keep the dental alignment in the desired position.  This includes all three dimensions.  Often, if there is plastic that is made to contact only some teeth but not others, there is some type of vertical control designed into the retainer; you may want to ask your orthodontist if this is the case.

That being said, it is very important that the retainer be comfortable to wear. This is because 1) discomfort may indicate some kind of imbalance of forces on the teeth, 2) will tend to discourage consistent use, which is key to effectiveness of retainers, in general, and 3) we really do not want to cause discomfort when it can be helped!

All in all, the best course of action is to let your orthodontist know about the discomfort, and your questions, then let them address them.

Seattle Orthodontist

Retaining the bite

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

A retainer that works to maintain bite correction is quite common. The plastic your son is biting on is called a bite plane, and it can be positioned behind the upper front teeth, or between the back teeth depending on the bite issue at hand. I would suggest contacting his orthodontist directly to see if an adjustment can be made to make his retainer more comfortable.

Rob van den Berg, DDS, MS
San Ramon Orthodontist

Clear Braces

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The retainer, after compeltion of orthodontic treatment, is to insure that the teeth don't shift.  It is usually worn at night.  Your son should be able to close his mouth all the way.  The retainer should not interfere with the bite and should be comfortable.

Murray Bruckel, DDS
Norwalk Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.