Why Wear Orthodontic Retainers?

dental retainerCongratulations! Your braces have been removed!

Like any other body part, your teeth are subject to change after your braces come off. So how can you ensure that you keep your beautiful smile and perfectly aligned teeth years? The answer is simple : wear a retainer. Immediately after getting the braces removed, you must wear your retainer all the time for a year to prevent your teeth from moving. After the first year, you should wear your retainer every night, indefinitely.

What is a Retainer and Who Needs One?

A retainer is an appliance that is worn after your braces or other orthodontic appliances come off. The purpose of this appliance is to keep the teeth in their intended position and prevent them from slipping back to their previous position.

Anyone who has recently undergone orthodontic treatment to get their teeth straightened needs to wear a retainer.

Why is a Retainer Needed after Orthodontic Treatment?

Our teeth are attached to our gums and surrounding structures through various fibers and ligaments that keep them anchored in place. However, during orthodontic treatment, these fibrous linkages become loose due to the forces generated by the braces or orthodontic appliances. Once treatment is completed, the teeth can move back to their original position unless they are stopped from doing so by wearing a retainer.

Making sure to consistently wear a retainer is even more important for any adult who has undergone orthodontic treatment because the adult jaw bone and fibrous attachments of the teeth are much stronger. Hence, there are greater chances of relapse of misalignment.

What are the Types of Retainers?

There are generally two types of retainers:

Fixed Retainers — these retainers consist of a wire that is usually bonded to the tongue side of the lower front teeth and can only be removed by a dentist. These retainers can be removed and replaced by an orthodontist.

Removable Retainers — these upper and lower retainers can be removed by the patient. A removable retainer is usually made of a wire and acrylic or a clear aligner like material.

How Long Do You Need To Wear A Retainer?

Removable Retainers — It is recommended that you wear your retainer all the time for a year. After that, switch to wearing it at night, every night, if you want to keep your teeth straight for the rest of your life. Immediately and several months after orthodontic treatment, the bone around the shifted teeth will still be soft, so you absolutely must wear your retainers always to ensure the teeth do not shift into the softer bone mass.

After the bone hardens around the teeth, you might not need to wear your retainers always, because the risk for shifting is minimized. However, as we get older our teeth tend to naturally shift anyway. You want to make sure you protect your teeth from shifting to retain the smile you worked hard to get with orthodontic treatment.

Fixed / Permanent Retainers — It is recommended that you wear your retainer until your hygiene becomes compromised, the retainer becomes loose, or you request it be removed. Once removed, you should have a removable retainer made that you can wear daily or at night according to your situation and as per our recommendation.

Caring for Your Retainers

For Fixed Retainers — If you are wearing a fixed retainer, the only thing that you need to take care of is making sure that you floss between the wire which is attached to your teeth so that they remain protected from cavities and gum infections.

For Removable Retainers — Wash your retainers with lukewarm water after eating or drinking anything. You can also use toothpaste and your toothbrush to clean them.

In the event that you’re not confident about your smile and are looking for inspiration, check out some of our before and after photos. Today’s technology has allowed us to achieve incredible results and create beautiful smiles for our patients.