What happens when a patient’s lower teeth are significantly crowded, but there are several baby teeth still present, and the family does not want to have two separate sets of orthodontic braces? As an example, for 10-year-old Charlie, this was his reality. His orthodontist recommended an orthodontic lip bumper as the ideal way to resolve lower crowding as a tween, so his braces treatment at around 12 years old was less invasive and more straightforward.
Many dentists refer their patients to Burke & Redford Orthodontists in Temecula and Lake Elsinore, California, when they need a lip bumper appliance or any orthodontic treatment. Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke have over 30 years of experience treating families in Southern California with great success.
An orthodontic lip bumper is a device used in certain cases of lower front tooth crowding. It works by pushing back the lower molar teeth, widening the lower arch, and allowing the lower front teeth to broaden forward — creating more room for overcrowded teeth. As its name suggests, it also helps prevent lips from interfering with lower tooth alignment during treatment. Children adapt to lip bumpers quickly. In fact, many kids do not even notice them on their teeth after the first week or two.
Orthodontic lip bumpers have been around since the 1940s and remain popular today due to their effectiveness at lower crowding issues like those experienced by Charlie. This article will explore exactly how these devices work, what conditions they treat best, and provide information about potential risks associated with using one.
Lip Bumper Orthodontic Appliance
An orthodontic lip bumper is an appliance used in orthodontics to treat issues such as excessive overjet and lower crowding. It works by anchoring to two “rings” (called bands) that are affixed to the lower back molar teeth. The lip bumper portion of the device sits in front of the lower front teeth and is attached via wires extending around the outside of the lower side teeth to the back molar bands. The entire device is contained inside the patient’s mouth.
This wire puts backward direction pressure on the lower molars and keeps the lip from putting too much pressure on the lower front teeth, allowing for crowded lower front teeth to unravel. It can also increase the width of the lower arch. By wearing this appliance, patients can begin to correct lower arch problems without having to undergo more complicated orthodontic treatments.
What Is a Lip Bumper?
A lip bumper is an orthodontic appliance used to help expand the dental arch and provide a space for erupting teeth. It consists of a metal wire, which is fitted around the lower arch (between the teeth and the lips/cheeks) and attaches to two bands on each side of the mouth.
The wire extends to the back molars, providing support for the appliance. This helps to direct gentle pressure in the correct direction to achieve the desired effects.
The lip bumper also serves as a space maintainer, allowing baby teeth to shed and the replacement permanent teeth to erupt into their place without losing space. Not only does it save space, but it can help to gain additional space for crowded teeth as some baby molars are larger than the permanent teeth that replace them. It is adjusted periodically by Dr. Ryan Redford or Dr. Burke, so it fits comfortably against your lips and provides enough leeway for normal oral activities like speaking and eating. For some patients, this may require more frequent adjustments than others depending on how quickly the patient adapts to wearing it. Lip bumpers are generally only recommended when there is not enough space available in the lower jaw or when overcrowding needs to be addressed before further treatment can begin.
How Does a Lip Bumper Work?
A lip bumper works much like a shield, protecting the teeth from inwardly directed pressure from the lips and cheeks. This pressure relief allows for the lower arch to expand and the lower front teeth to drift in a positive direction as desired by the orthodontist.
By controlling the pressure balances in the mouth, positive changes can be made, especially as it relates to resolving lower jaw crowding.
Can I Eat with a Lip Bumper?
Yes, you can eat with a lip bumper. Although it may take some time getting used to having the appliance in your mouth, patients quickly find that eating is still possible. When biting and chewing food with a lip bumper, be sure not to bite down too hard on the plastic part of the orthodontic device, as this could cause it to break or become loose from its anchor bands.
Our orthodontists recommend cutting up foods into smaller pieces for easier consumption. Avoid sticky and hard foods such as caramel, taffy, and nuts since these can pull off the bracket attachments more easily than other types of food.
Drinking carbonated liquids should also be avoided as it can loosen the appliance or contribute to an increased risk of tooth decay. With careful attention when eating and drinking, enjoying meals with a lip bumper should not be much different than before getting braces.
How Often Do You Wear It?
An orthodontic lip bumper is typically worn full-time until all the permanent teeth have erupted (around age 12, typically). During this time, it will be monitored and adjusted periodically by your orthodontist. Once the treatment period has been completed, your orthodontist may suggest moving to comprehensive orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign.
It is important to follow the instructions provided by Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke carefully to achieve successful results with an orthodontic lip bumper. When indicated, it helps ensure patients get the most out of their orthodontic treatment and a beautiful smile for years to come.
Lip bumper orthodontic appliances are a great way to help resolve lower crowding in the appropriate cases. Contact Burke & Redford Orthodontists by calling our office during work hours at (951) 699-8011 or through our Schedule a Free Orthodontic Consultation form on our website anytime.