Orthodontic braces usually consist of metal bands around your back teeth with an attached wire that runs through brackets on each tooth. These brackets all work together to pull your teeth into a healthier alignment.
In some cases, additional devices are needed to achieve good results. Bite blocks, which are sometimes called ramps or turbos, are one addition that can help withyour treatment.
Bite blocks are used to prevent your upper teeth and lower teeth from touching to avoid breakage of brackets when you’re biting. Read on to learn more about bite blocks and how they’re used.
Bite blocks are tiny devices that an orthodontist attaches to your front or back teeth to keep your upper and lower teeth from coming into contact with each other when you bite down.
They are usually made of metal, glass Ionomer cement, or acrylic, and they may be pink, blue, red, silver, or tooth-colored.
In some cases, bite blocks may even be spring-loaded. Sometimes, L-shaped or triangular bite blocks are placed on the tongue side of your front teeth, and sometimes flat or mounded blocks are attached to the top surface of your back molars.
If your orthodontist has given you bite blocks, it’s because the way your teeth come into contact with each other could slow down the straightening of your teeth — or damage them.
Although bite blocks are usually used along with conventional orthodontic braces, some orthodontists may use bite blocks by themselves. In
Bite blocks, like many dental devices, sometimes pose problems, especially at first. Here are some of the most common concerns, and what you can do to fix them.
While you’re adjusting to a new way of eating, you may want to choose foods that require less vigorous chewing. Foods like steak that require a lot of chewing will probably be difficult and uncomfortable. Soft foods are usually a better idea.
While you have bite blocks in place, you might want to start by cutting your food into smaller bites to make eating easier. After around a week, you’ll probably have adapted to the bite blocks and found new ways to chew that work for you.
For some people, bite blocks can get in the way of your tongue as you’re speaking, causing you to lisp or to form some vowel sounds differently. This problem is more common with blocks attached to the lingual (inside) surface of your teeth.
Changes to the way you speak may give you anxiety about talking, even when you’re having conversations with people who know you well. Practice helps — you can start by practice single sounds, then move to words, sentences, and conversations.
If the problem doesn’t resolve as you continue to practice, you might find it helpful to work with a speech and language pathologist.
When you first get your braces, you may have some pain or soreness as your teeth begin to move into new positions in your mouth.
Bite blocks may cause some additional discomfort because your teeth only touch where your bite plates are, so the force you exert to chew is localized in those areas.
Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) will relieve much of the pain. Sometimes, an anesthetic gel such as Anbesol or Orajel can help.
You may also need to adjust your diet to softer foods while you’re getting used to braces and bite blocks. Smoothies made with fruits, vegetables, and protein supplements might be a good alternative to foods you have to chew.
There are also plenty of whole foods, such as fish, scrambled eggs, and berries, that are soft enough to eat when your mouth feels tender.
Lost or worn blocks
Some bite blocks are made of materials that can wear away over time.
If your bite blocks are wearing down so much that they’re no longer keeping your teeth apart, or if one has come off the tooth surface entirely, it’s important to call your orthodontist.
Your orthodontist might need to replace the device so your teeth can keep moving into the right alignment.
Biting on only one block
For a while, your teeth may touch just one of the blocks. Although it probably feels strange, it’s considered normal.
If you’re not in pain, you probably won’t need to do anything about this issue, but do call your orthodontist for advice if biting on only one block is causing other issues for you.
Bite blocks are temporary. How long you need to wear them depends on how quickly your teeth move into healthier alignment. For many people, bite blocks are only in place for 6 to 9 months, but your treatment time could be different.
Bite blocks, also called ramps or turbos, are tiny devices attached to your teeth to keep the upper and lower teeth from touching when you bite down.
Orthodontists install bite blocks to allow your teeth to move into correct alignment and to keep you from biting off the brackets on your braces.
Bite blocks can cause some discomfort, especially at first. Because your upper and lower teeth won’t meet when you bite down, chewing will be a challenge until you adjust to the bite blocks. Softer foods and smaller bites will help.
Bite blocks may also temporarily change the way you speak. To correct any speech impairments, practice speaking more slowly and deliberately — and know that you can get help from a speech therapist if the problem doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks.
If your bite blocks wear down or come off, call your orthodontist to schedule a repair.
The bite blocks are in place to make your treatment faster and more effective, so it’s important to keep them in good shape so your bite can be corrected as quickly as possible.