Orthodontic devices are a fact of life for many teenagers and adults, but the process of getting them fitted can be confusing and cause frustration if you're not aware of the purpose for each component. If your orthodontist has told you that you need a bite plate for your mouth, here are four things to know that will help you understand just what to expect with this treatment.
1. They Treat Overbites -- Bite plates are removable dental devices that have a strong acrylic surface that attaches to the roof of your mouth with the aid of wire clasps at the both sides that fit over your top back teeth. They are usually inserted in your mouth to treat what is known as an 'overbite,' in which your upper teeth extend too far out when you bite down, covering your lower teeth. Bite plates adjust your bite over a period of time so that the muscles of your jaw realign in the proper configuration.
2. Remove It Only Under Certain Conditions -- Bite plates are made to be in your mouth for a continuous period of time, typically 23 hours a day. Orthodontists recommend that you remove the bite plate for one hour a day to relieve some pressure on the roof of your mouth. You can also remove the plate to brush your teeth, to throw up if you're ill, to swim and when playing a sporting activity. When engaged in this kind of physical activity, however, you should wear a mouthguard for protection.
3. Maintenance Is Key -- You have to maintain your bite plate the same way you do your teeth, which means twice-a-day brushing of the wire clasps and acrylic surface. You also need to soak the bite plate in a cup of mouthwash or in a denture cleanser to ensure that it's free of bacteria. One trick to remember is that when you're cleaning your bite plate with a toothbrush, run your sink with water to act as a cushion if the plate falls. To preserve the bite plate, avoid eating sticky and hard candy, hard nuts or gum. These foods can scratch or break the acrylic on your bite plate.
4. Your Speech Will Be Affected -- During the first weeks after your bite plate is installed, you will have to adjust the way you speak because the bite plate is a new obstruction. But after a little while, you will learn how to speak with the plate in your mouth, especially if you practice reading words from a book aloud to get your mouth used to the changes in how your mouth is aligned.
For more information about your bite plate, consult an orthodontist, such as Perfect Smiles Orthodontics.