You’ve finally reached that date on your calendar that you have been looking forward to for months!
It’s time to bid adieu to your braces.
Your orthodontist might make you wear a retainer for a while.
What Is a Retainer and Who Needs It?
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that is worn after braces, and other orthodontic appliances come off. It is custom-made out of plastic and metal for each patient, and it fits on the top of the teeth and mouth.
Any patient who has undergone orthodontic treatment needs to wear a retainer.
Why Is a Retainer Needed After Orthodontic Treatment?
You can blame genetics for crooked teeth or a misaligned bite. If you don’t use a retainer after braces your teeth will revert to the way they were before orthodontic treatment. If you ignore the retainer, an orthodontic relapse will occur which might require extensive treatment to fix. The teeth will shift in the years following braces removal, but their extent of shifting will depend onhow regularly you wear the retainers.
5 Reasons Why Are Retainers Important?
Here’s how retainers help in your orthodontic treatment:
- They Stabilize Your Bite
- They Maintain Space for Wisdom Teeth and New Teeth
- They Prevent Treatment Reversal
- They Align Your Jaw Bones With Gums
- They Help Teeth Hold Their Position
Once your braces are removed, the soft tissue and bone around your teeth need time to adapt to the changes made in tooth positioning. They slowly stabilize in their new arrangement, and once that occurs, the likelihood of relapse or having the teeth shift out of their positions is minimal.
Braces are most commonly worn by preteens and teenagers, whose bodies are still developing. So, they would use retainers for teeth around the same time when wisdom teeth erupt. When they use the retainer diligently, there will be the necessary space maintained in their jaw to accommodate new teeth like wisdom teeth. Constant use of retainers ensures that the teeth don’t shift or crowd due to lack of space.
The teeth will start moving back to their old position in the months following the removal of braces. A retainer can prevent the reversal. However, depending on your case, you may be required to wear a retainer for a couple of years.
When your teeth are being aligned to a new position, the gums and bones surrounding the teeth will take longer to follow suit. Retainers help in accelerating alignment and stabilizing your bite.
If you use braces to correct the gaps in the teeth, it will take a longer time for the teeth to stabilize. This can hold true even for severely displaced teeth, large overbites and underbites. It is important to hold the teeth, which need to be moved a considerable distance or repositioned significantly and firmly in their new spaces until the mouth can adapt to these changes. The retainer helps in achieving this.
What Are the Types of Retainers?
There are two types of retainers, the one you get will depend on your orthodontist’s judgement of the treatment you need.
- Fixed Retainers
- Removable Retainers
Fixed retainers consist of a wire that is bonded to the lingual (tongue side) surface of the teeth, and can’t be removed by the patient.
Removable retainers, like their name suggests, can be removed at will. These are the most common types of retainers.
How Long Do You Need to Wear a Retainer?
The average period for wearing removable retainers is at least 12 months after your braces removal, and you might have to wear your retainer full time for the first 4-6 months.
But each orthodontic treatment is unique, and the exact duration of your retainer wear is dependent on the type of orthodontic correction you have received.
How to Take Care for Your Retainers?
- The first step to caring for your retainers is maintaining a strict oral hygiene routine, just like you would with your braces.
- Follow the instructions carefully regarding wearing, cleaning and storing your retainers.
- If you are wearing fixed retainers, you need to make sure you floss between the wires which are attached to your teeth so that there’s no plaque buildup on it.
- If you are wearing removable retainers, wash your retainers with lukewarm water after eating or drinking anything. You can also use toothpaste and your toothbrush to clean them.
The success of your orthodontic treatment depends upon your ability to diligently wear a retainer. If you experience any issues with your retainers or if you would like to discuss retainer options with us, get in touch with us today!
Dr. Brian Thurman has spent his entire life enjoying all the beauty that California has to offer. A Fresno native, he still escapes to the ocean or the mountains whenever his busy schedule allows. Driven by his love for natural beauty, Dr. Thurman enjoys creating beautiful smiles and healthy bites that last a lifetime. He is proud to be the only Ivy League trained Orthodontist in the Fresno/Clovis area.