Getting adjusted to your bite plate is not an easy task. Bite plates are totally disruptive in all aspects: eating, talking, even swallowing. We want our patients’ time with their bite plate to be as short as possible, which means taking good care of them and regularly checking for damage. So how do you know when something is wrong?
If your bite plate is loose, it might be normal. Bite plates are temporary, and they’re not meant to fit snugly around your teeth since braces cause teeth to shift anyway. Contact your orthodontist if your bite plate is dangling down in the front, coming off one molar, or falling off completely.
Are you wearing a bite plate right now and you’re a feeling concerned? I’d love to help you, but first, you need to figure out which type of bite plate you have on, because they both come with their own sets of problems. Read on to learn more!
Removable vs. fixed bite plates – are both supposed to feel loose?
Aside from one being removable, and the other being glued on, there’s quite a difference between the shape and size of a removable bite plate compared to a fixed bite plate.
The removable bite plate will cover much of the palate, following the lingual outline of the upper teeth. This intimate contact with the teeth and palate is what makes it stay on, as well as two clasps added for better retention.
The fixed bite plate is less extensive on the palate, but the downside is that you can’t take it off. Its main retention consists of two bands bonded on the molars.
When you first got your bite plate on, you probably experienced a feeling of tightness. This is because the lab technician built the bite plate to fit snugly on your teeth.
As both the bite plate and braces push and pull on your teeth, your teeth will begin to shift, move forward and even change angles. This will cause your bite plate to start feeling loose and even jiggle a little bit, because it will no longer fit around your teeth like before. This is normal.
Sometimes, the orthodontist adjusts the bite plate by shaving some of the acrylic off with a burr to create space for teeth that are errupting or being pulled back. This will also make your bite plate feel loose, but it shouldn’t fall out.
Fixed bite plate troubleshooting
Now that we’ve established that a little looseness in your bite plate is no big deal, let’s address what normal means:
- Your fixed bite plate is jiggly / bouncy when you press on it with your bottom teeth.
- You have a gap between your fixed bite plate and your upper front teeth.
If the acrylic part of the fixed bite plate is dangling down, lower than your upper teeth, interfering with your speech and bite, contact the orthodontist’s office immediately. This usually happens if you distorted the metal support by pulling down on the acrylic. It can also mean that it’s broken on one side or was maladjusted in the office to begin with.
If the back part of your fixed bite plate seems mobile, and you can actually feel or see one of the molar bands coming loose, contact your doctor’s office immediately.
Your orthodontist will check your fixed bite plate. If there’s an issue, they will remove it from your teeth with a special plier, adjust it and glue it back. If the appliance is broken, your doctor will take impressions and send them to the lab to make a new bite plate.
Removable bite plate troubleshooting
Removable bite plates are great because you can maintain good hygiene and inspect your appliance every day. Feeling your removable bite plate become slightly loose is normal. Here’s what you should expect:
- You feel your removable bite plate jiggle but it still takes effort to take it out. This is normal.
- When you press or bite on one side, the other side lifts slightly – also normal.
- Your removable bite plate doesn’t fit like it used to, and the clasps aren’t as tight.
Removable bite plates aren’t built to stay put on your palate like dentures – they only have one clasp on each side for support, and the front mass of acrylic can destabilize your appliance when you bite on it. Even so, removable bite plates are useful in the short term, so you shouldn’t worry if you feel them moving around a little.
A removable bite plate becomes a problem when it no longer stays in comfortably. This means that it’s either broken or no longer fitting like it should. Whatever it may be, you should contact your orthodontist’s office.
If the removable bite plate is broken, your orthodontist will take new impressions and order a new appliance. If it’s just loose, your doctor will adjust the ball clasps with a plier, and the bite plate will hold on to your back teeth better.
Sometimes, a little extra adjustment is needed, like grinding off or adding some acrylic, and that can easily be done in the ortho’s office or the lab.
Whatever type of bite plate you have on, remember to care for it properly. Eat softer foods to avoid any breakage and maintain excellent oral hygiene, especially if you have a fixed bite plate on. Don’t put off going to your orthodontist if you notice anything is broken or bent – it could add months to your treatment.
And lastly, keep in mind that bite plates are temporary – you just have to hang in there for about 6 months. Soon enough, your bite plate will be replaced with bite turbos, and your braces will become much more manageable.
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