You are probably counting down the days until your braces come off, and you can see a beautiful, radiant smile. After countless orthodontic appointments, adjustments, and discomfort, it is exciting to see this payoff. But your journey to straight teeth doesn’t end with braces, and it is important that you wear your retainers.
But how long will you have to wear your retainer, and what factors determine this treatment length? Our team at Bailey Orthodontics wants you to know why it is so important to wear your retainer for the recommended treatment time and what happens if you don’t follow your treatment plan properly.
Why Is A Retainer Important?
The goal of orthodontic treatment is to correct misaligned teeth and create a straighter smile. However, after your braces or other orthodontic device is removed, your teeth may begin to shift back to their original position. When you wear your retainer, you protect your teeth from moving back, ensuring the time and money invested in your orthodontic treatment isn’t wasted.
Your orthodontic treatment doesn’t just affect your teeth but also the bone and tissue surrounding them. After your teeth have finished moving, your bone needs to heal around the teeth; that is why wearing your retainer is so important after treatment is completed. By wearing your retainer, you provide support to the teeth, bone, and tissue as they adjust to the new tooth positions. For many, the largest role your retainer plays in orthodontic treatment is the prevention of persistent misalignment.
The First Four Months
The recommended wear time for your retainer immediately after your orthodontic treatment is going to vary based on your orthodontist’s recommendations. However, for many orthodontic patients, your orthodontist will recommend that you wear your retainer for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, immediately after the removal of your braces. The only time you will want to remove your retainer is when you take it out to eat or brush and floss your teeth. At this point, you’ll also want to perform a thorough cleaning of the retainer before putting it back in.
After this initial four-month period is over, your orthodontist may adjust this schedule. For some orthodontic patients, this may mark the period where your orthodontist suggests that you wear your retainer only while you are at home and at night. Then, eventually graduate to nighttime wear of your retainer only while you sleep.
As time progresses, the amount of time that you are required to wear your retainer may become less frequent. However, it is important that you attend regular follow-up appointments after your braces are removed to ensure your retainer schedule is still supporting your orthodontic treatment.
How Long Should You Wear Your Retainer After Orthodontic Treatment?
The short answer is, as long as you want your teeth to stay in the correct alignment after orthodontic treatment. As you grow and age your teeth, like anything else in your body, will want to change and move. It is essential that you continue to wear your retainers to maintain your new beautiful smile.
The Consequences Of Not Wearing Your Retainer
Not wearing your retainer after orthodontic treatment as recommended by your orthodontist may have a significant impact on your teeth and oral health. The consequences of not wearing your retainer after orthodontic treatment include the following:
- Teeth shifting: As we’ve mentioned above, your retainer after orthodontic treatment plays a big role in ensuring your teeth maintain their corrected position. By failing to wear your retainer, you may notice your teeth slowly shifting back to their original position.
- Discomfort: As your teeth shift, you may begin to experience pain or discomfort, especially if your teeth are overcrowded. This may lead to discomfort during everyday tasks, like eating and caring for your teeth.
- Oral health problems: If your orthodontic treatment helped treat oral health problems, such as bruxism or TMJ disorder, you may notice these problems recurring if you fail to wear your retainer after orthodontic treatment.
- Need for further treatment: If the shifting of your teeth is significant enough, your orthodontist may suggest that you need to wear braces or other orthodontic devices again.
Caring For Your Retainer With Bailey Orthodontics
It is important to keep your retainers clean, as it will also help keep your teeth clean. Use soap and water with a clean toothbrush to clean your retainers daily. Do not use straight toothpaste on your retainers, as toothpaste is abrasive and can scratch your retainers and give them a dull look. For a deeper clean, use equal parts water and white vinegar. Keep your retainers away from heat, such as cleaning with hot water, leaving them in a hot car, running them in the dishwasher, or boiling the retainers. Any heat on the retainers will cause them to melt, and they will not fit correctly.
Braces are a substantial financial investment. When they are removed, you should do everything in your power to protect this investment. At Bailey Orthodontics, our team works hard to ensure this investment doesn’t go to waste. In addition to our amazing team, we have a variety of online sources available to our patients to protect their teeth before, during, and after wearing their braces and retainer.
Bailey Orthodontics has recently reopened its Farmington, Utah office, and our team is looking forward to seeing you in this new and improved space. This beautiful new state-of-the-art facility is the perfect place to begin your orthodontic journey. If you are interested in scheduling an orthodontic consultation with us or would like to learn more about our financing options, contact us today.