After you go through the process of having your teeth straightened, you want to ensure that they stay in place. A retainer is used for this purpose. Without one, your teeth are in danger of slowly migrating back to their original position. The retainer will anchor your teeth in their corrected position.
There are two basic types of retainers: removable or fixed. Your dentist or orthodontist decides which type will be best for your specific situation. Your retainer will be custom-made to hold your teeth in place. This is accomplished by creating it from a mold replicating your teeth. The retainer is made from wire or acrylic, depending on the type best suited for your mouth.
The length of time you will need to wear retainers will also depend on your particular situation. Your orthodontist will recommend the type of retainer and length of time you will need to wear it to maintain the best results.
A fixed or permanent retainer is discreetly bonded to the teeth, meaning it will not necessarily be noticeable. Permanent retainers are usually attached to the back of your teeth.
Braces are worn for one to two years, and when a permanent retainer is prescribed to maintain the work, it may be worn for several years. Some fixed retainers are worn for decades. There have been instances where patients have had retainers for as long as 20 years.
The upside of wearing a fixed retainer is that it does not get lost; you will not have to worry about whether or not you wore it for the prescribed number of hours each day. You are also assured that your teeth will maintain their placement.
The permanent retainer will age, and you can expect that it will need to be changed or removed at least once during the time you wear it. In some instances, an older retainer may come off. If this happens, it is essential to see your orthodontist.
You will be advised as to how long you will need to keep your retainer on and when it can be removed without affecting the placement of your teeth. If the retainer is taken off too soon, your teeth may migrate out of position and move out of alignment again. Proper maintenance of your permanent retainer will help it last longer, preserving your beautiful smile.
A fixed retainer is usually made of wire, but a removable retainer is made from a combination of acrylic and wire. The acrylic base may also have hooks and clasps to hold it in place on your teeth. This type of retainer is removable and worn for a set number of hours every day.
You will need to wear your retainer every day for the allotted time for a few months. This keeps your newly moved teeth in place as the bone hardens around their roots. Eventually, you may only need to wear your removable retainer at night.
There are some adjustments you will need to make when you are wearing your removable retainer. You will need to keep it clean by brushing it gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You can use toothpaste on it as long as it is not very abrasive. You can also soak your retainer using denture cleaning tablets. As an alternative to commercial cleaners, you can use a vinegar and water soak to remove bacteria.
One of the main things to remember is to keep track of your retainer when you take it out for meals and snacks. Wrapping your retainer in a napkin while you eat is not a good idea. Many patients have left their retainers at the restaurant or inadvertently thrown them in the trash as a result. Put your retainer in its case when you take it out for meals.
Keeping your teeth in alignment after your braces come off is as important as getting them straightened. Be sure to stay on top of your follow-up appointments. Contact Schatz Orthodontics if you have questions or would like more information.