You've worked hard for your beautiful smile; keep it that way!
Finally, your braces have been removed and your smile is beautiful, straight, and best of all, metal-free! However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed. To keep your smile looking its best, you'll have to wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize your results. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after braces treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth.
Types of Retainers
Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.
- Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch that sits in the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue minor movement of the front teeth as needed.
- Aligner-style retainers, or Essix retainers, look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This clear retainer may fit over the entire arch of your teeth, or only from canine to canine (clip-on retainer). It is produced from a mold of your newly aligned teeth.
- Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top teeth. While the device is usually required no more than a year after wisdom teeth have been extracted, it is often kept in place for life.
Pros and Cons
- Removable retainers can be taken out for eating and hygiene routines.
- Removable retainers can get lost easily, so remember to keep yours in the case whenever you remove it to eat or brush.
- A fixed retainer is great if you don't want to keep track of it, or if you don't want to worry about how many hours per day it must be worn.
- Teeth with fixed retainers require a little extra attention to remove tartar while flossing. Patients with fixed retainers often must use floss threaders to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the retainer and the teeth.
Wearing your retainer:
It is very important to wear your retainer! Your teeth will move and shift if you do not wear you retainers according to the proper schedule listed below.
- Retainers must be worn 24 hours a day for the first 2 weeks. You should only remove them to eat or brush your teeth.
- After the first two weeks, retainers are to be worn for a minimum of 12 hours a day for at least 2 months. Most of these hours will be in the evening and at night. Do not wear it to school during this time.
- After 2 months, retainers should be worn about 8-10 hours a day, mostly at night while you are sleeping.
- Retainers WILL need to be worn forever. Some people may get to a point where they will be able to slip them in once or twice a week just to maintain your beautiful smile (this DOES NOT work the same for everyone). If you are doing this you must constantly keep an eye on your teeth, and if you notice any shifting get your retainers in immediately. You never want to get to the point where your retainers do not fit anymore. If they are not fitting call us and must make an appointment to check them. There will be an office charge for this appointment.
- PETS love to chew the plastic, be careful to keep retainers in a safe protected area when not in your mouth.
Cleaning your retainer:
- Brush retainers daily with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste, rinse thoroughly.
- You make soak your retainers in mouthwash periodically to freshen.
- It is normal for retainers to discolor. You may want to soak them in a denture cleaner such as Efferdent.
It is extremely important that we see you for regularly scheduled appointments for at least two years after the braces are removed.
- Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
- Notify our office immediately if retainers are lost or damaged.
- If your retainers feel as if they do not fit properly or you notice any shifting of your teeth, call our office right away.