It is likely that you are counting down the days until you get your braces off. It is important to keep in mind that after your braces have been removed, the orthodontic treatment isn’t over. Retainers will need to be worn following the removal of the orthodontic treatment in order to prevent the teeth from shifting. It is vital to follow your orthodontist’s instructions carefully after you have had your braces or Invisalign treatment completed to ensure long-standing results.
What is a Retainer?
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that is intended to keep your teeth in alignment after the initial orthodontic treatment has concluded. This retainer will be molded and designed specifically for your smile. It is important to obtain a customized retainer because it will be able to keep your teeth from falling out of alignment. A retainer may initially feel tight and cause discomfort, but this should fade with consistent use.
Why Retainers are Important
Unfortunately, braces don’t guarantee that the results will be permanent. In fact, teeth have a natural tendency to move back into their original place after the forces holding them have been removed. Without a retainer, it is likely that the teeth will go back to their prior misalignment shortly after having braces removed. The tendency for teeth to shift and regress fades over time, as they become more firmly set, but this can last for up to 18 months. A retainer helps to keep the teeth aligned and ensure the best lasting results for the appearance of your smile. It is especially important to wear your retainer as often as possible for the first 3 to 6 months after having braces removed, but it will likely require long-term use to prevent regression.
Types of Retainers
There are multiple types of retainers. We will discuss the best solution for retaining the alignment of your teeth to ensure the most satisfactory results. There are some situations, though this is rare, in which both removable and fixed retainers will be used in conjunction in order to provide the most effective outcome for your teeth. The two main types of retainers are removable and fixed. There are both pros and drawbacks to each kind of retainer and the ideal type for you will largely depend on your specific situation.
Removable retainers are retainers that you can remove and store when they are not in use. This kind of retainer is often much easier to keep clean, because you can remove your retainer when you clean your teeth, clean the appliance, and whenever you eat. They can allow you to more effectively care for your oral health. However, the main drawback to removable retainers is that you must remember to wear it according to your orthodontist’s specifications. If you find that you forget frequently or don’t wear it as often as you should, a fixed retainer may be the best solution for you. Removable retainers are also easier to lose and damage, because they can be taken out of your mouth and misplaced.
A fixed retainer is adhered to the teeth much in the same way as braces. They consist of a thin wire that is positioned on the behind (lingual) surface of the teeth. This wire is then bonded to the teeth to ensure that it stays in place. Fixed retainers often are especially effective at keeping the teeth in place, but they can be more difficult to keep clean. We can help you to determine the ideal retainer for you and your specific situation.
How Long to Wear a Retainer
Ultimately, retainer use will continue indefinitely, and a straight smile is an ongoing commitment. However, the amount of time that you must spend wearing a retainer will depend on how long it has been since you had your braces removed. Always wear your retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions. Failing to wear your retainer for a day or two likely won’t cause significant issues, but it is a slippery slope that often leads to failing to wear your retainer for longer. This will cause the teeth to gradually move out of alignment.
In most situations, you will be required to wear your retainer as often as possible for the first 3 to 6 months after your braces have been removed. After this, it is largely recommended that you wear your retainer nightly for the next 1 to 3 years. 3 years after having your braces removed, you will likely have to continue wearing your retainer about 2 or 3 nights a week to ensure that your teeth remain straight.
Things to Remember About Retainers
If you have a removable retainer, you will want to ensure that you wear it as instructed. If you have gone a period of time without wearing your retainer, you may still be able to use it to shift teeth back into place. However, never force your retainer into place. This can cause harm to the surface of the teeth or break the retainer.
Caring for your Retainer
It is important to take the steps necessary to keep your retainer in good condition. Bacteria can accumulate in the mouth, which often cause damage to the teeth. It is important to ensure that your retainer is clean and well-maintained to ensure that it is sanitary and capable of keeping your teeth straightened effectively. Ensure that you rinse your retainer in cold water before and after use. If you have a permanent retainer, you will need to follow the same processes to clean them as you did with braces. Store your removable retainer in a plastic case whenever it is not in use. You should never place a retainer in hot water, as this can cause it to shrink. You will also need to wash your retainer with a specialized cleaner every few months. Ensure that you keep your retainer away from pets, as this is one of the leading causes of damage to retainers.
Here at Bailey Orthodontics, we are passionate about straightening your smile and keeping it that way. To meet these ends, it is likely that you will be required to wear a retainer following your orthodontic treatment. To learn more about how to keep your smile straight and beautiful, contact our office at Bailey Orthodontics today!