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In Dentistry, what is a Lip Bumper?

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  • Written By: R. Halprin
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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A lip bumper is a dental appliance used in the orthodontic treatment of children. It's basically a wire that is partially coated in plastic. The wire is hooked on to two molars at either end and lines the front side of the lower teeth. Used as an early intervention, the lip bumper essentially stretches or widens the arch of the lower jaw to introduce added capacity for the eruption of the permanent adult teeth. It's generally a preferred alternative to teeth extraction that is usually installed by an orthodontist who will likely need to make periodic adjustments over the course of a year.

The dental lip bumper creates several positive conditions in the mouth. It allows the tongue to gently press against the lower teeth, thereby creating more space for them. At the same time, it keeps the cheeks and lower lip from exerting too much pressure on the teeth, pressure which can lead to crowding. The appliance also pushes the patient's lower molars back to make room for permanent teeth. The bumper is occasionally used on the upper teeth, but its primary application is in the lower mouth.

The orthodontic lip bumper is generally a precursor to dental braces, and it may cut down on the amount of time a young patient may subsequently have to wear braces. In this way, the lip bumper functions as the opposite of a retainer, the appliance worn by the orthodontic patient for some period of time after braces come off.

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The appliance itself is a plastic-covered, metal wire that connects to tubes anchored to the lower molars and behind the lower lip. Although it is a removable appliance, it is typically worn 24 hours a day including during meals and when sleeping. Some orthodontists, however, may allow patients to remove the appliance when eating and brushing. If a bumper is worn continuously, patients must make sure to carefully brush around it to thoroughly remove plaque from the lower teeth.

Patients may experience some soreness or sensitivity in the teeth or gums in the first couple of days after placement of a lip bumper. Eating soft foods, gargling with salt water, or taking Tylenol® can help during this transitional period. If the irritation persists, an orthodontist should be seen to assess whether refitting may be necessary. A lip bumper generally stays in place for approximately one year for a successful outcome. Patients will also need to return to the orthodontist office for regular adjustments during that time.

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anon933355
Post 9

I hate it. My lip bumper has these two little "protrusions" on the sides that scrape my inner cheeks, creating sores on the inside of my mouth that make it hurt to do anything - smile, chew, open my mouth, talk, and even sleep on the right side of my face.

I know it's supposed to help but it's not worth the pain... my orthodontist waited three years before deciding to actually do something in the process of my braces. Fantastic, because I'm already 16. When I eat, everything gets stuck in it, even oatmeal. Now when I go to school people are inquisitive about it and ask me all sorts of questions like "what does it do?" or "what is

it?" and I don't know any good answers.

I also don't eat much at school anymore because I don't have time to sit in the bathroom for 15 minutes out of my 25 minute lunch to pick food particles out of my teeth. In all honesty, I'd rather wear my (clear) braces a year longer than have this monstrosity in my senior pictures. Is there any way I can get braces instead? If there is, I will talk to my orthodontist about cutting time short with this. It's really terrible. You would think with the technological advancements of today they would consider making this less painful, large, and shiny -- and embarrassing.

anon340352
Post 8

You really just need to check with your orthodontics. specialist. But it does pay to do what is recommended, because the results won't be what you want in the end if you hate your equipment and refuse to wear it as directed. Truth!

anon335662
Post 7

Does a lip bumper make you sound different? By the way, I hate mine!

anon332470
Post 6

My child's lip bumper keeps breaking. Has this happened to anyone else?. His ortho gets an attitude and is very rude about it. It's not anything that he has done.

anon330624
Post 5

I absolutely loathe my lip bumper. (I agree with every word anon322494 says in their post!) This piece of crap makes my mouth swollen and I can no longer smile normally or talk without a dreadful lisp.

I am constantly in pain from this torturous device and currently have a horrible canker sore (the third in almost two months) from this thing; it seems that every time I go to the orthodontists and get it refitted, I get another painful sore! I'm running out of dental wax (in fact the last piece I have is in my mouth right now) and am very frustrated with this whole situation.

anon322494
Post 4

I hate my lip bumper. It is unnatural, uncomfortable, annoying, and stupid, I'd rather get a staph infection than wear this thing. I'd rather wait longer with my retainer and braces than wear this thing.

I think patients should have a choice on whether to have it, kid or not. No one should have to wear a monstrosity like this, no matter how much good it does you. I'd rather keep my slightly tilted teeth than wear this thing. I'm about ready to rip it off, expensive or not.

anon311587
Post 3

Can we use lip bumper with a 2 year old patient as he has the habit of lip sucking?

anon274809
Post 2

I have braces. And an expander. And a lip bumper. And headgear. Yes it bugs me sometimes but I don't mind be cause I know it's worth it.

Personally, I think it's a bit unnatural to have all that metal in one's mouth but it's not forever! I'm only a kid but I do know all this metal and pain and hatred will leave me with a decent smile. I hope it works out as planned.

anon119520
Post 1

i hate my lip bumper. i have an expander and i hate that, too. i hate that my mouth is so messed up.

it always hurts and i can't eat laffy taffy, popcorn or candy apples or peanuts or caramel. i can't have my favorite ice cream and I'm always in pain and it is expensive.

i look weird and i have to get headgear. so I'll be embarrassed too. i feel like an alien experiment. Grr.

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