So, you have just gotten your braces removed, and now your orthodontist starts telling you about retainers. You’re wondering what a retainer is and whether or not you really need one. The bad news is that you will need to wear it. The good news is that you’ll often get away with just wearing it at night.
What is a retainer exactly? It’s a device that is designed to make sure to hold the ligaments in teeth in the right position. Without wearing a retainer, your ligaments could end up pulling the teeth back into their original positions.
Which means that all that discomfort that went with having braces ends up being for nothing. So, do you need one? Yes, if you want your smile to stay perfect.
The good news is that retainers aren’t quite as bulky as braces. And, while you might initially need to wear them all the time, you should eventually be able to cut this back to only at night.
Depending on the type of retainer you have, you can take it out when you need to eat or follow your normal dental care routine.
You will either be given a fixed retainer or a removable retainer. The difference is simply that the fixed model is “glued” onto the back of the teeth with cement. The removable type can be taken out easily enough.
Which is better? This is going to depend on what your orthodontist says. A fixed retainer will last for several years. It’s good if you are concerned about misplacing it, or if you have a child that is bound to lose it.
Aside from that, the fixed models are more likely to be used in cases where the change made by the braces was significant. If there is a higher risk of the teeth moving back into their original positions, this is probably the better option.
The removable models, on the other hand, are usually only used for a year or so.
Another difference is going to be the material that the device is made out of. Acrylic is most commonly used. They are made with a wire that can be adjusted and acrylic. The advantage of these is that they can be adjusted to get the perfect fit. You get a range of colors and styles.
The other type is made from clear plastic. These fit over the teeth exactly. They are more expensive, but also a lot less noticeable.
If looked after well, this is a device that will last a good few years. You do need to guard against infections though. Your mouth is teeming with bacteria and plaque. You’re going to need to get rid of these. Also, there is a chance that food particles could get stuck in the wires/ plastic cover.
Fortunately, caring for it is a simple enough procedure. Take it out at least four times a day and rinse it off with plain warm water. This will help curb bacterial growth. You’ll also need to sanitize it at least once a week.
Your orthodontist will advise you on the best way to do this. As a general tip, you can soak it in warm water to which a bit of baking soda or soap has been added. If you have stains on the body of it, a baking soda paste scrubbed gently over the surface will work wonders.
It might seem more sanitary to use boiling water, but the problem is that this could seriously damage the plastic/ acrylic. That’s also the reason that they should never go into the dishwasher.
Aside from the regular cleaning, it’s important to keep them safely in their case when you are not wearing them. Wash them before putting them away and remember also to clean the case regularly.
This is a question that is best posed to your orthodontist. In most cases, you’ll have to wear it permanently for up to a year after the braces have been removed. Thereafter, you’ll have to wear them overnight for as long as you live.
It’s a pain, but if you want to keep your teeth in the exact right position, you need to take this step. So, if you thought braces were the final stage in correcting your smile, you were wrong.
These devices won’t actually shift the teeth at all; they just prevent them from moving back into their original positions.
Obviously, the amount of time that you wear one of these is also going to depend on the type. If it’s fixed, then it is going to be part of your routine for a few years to come. If removable, you’ll have to remember to keep using it.
To be on the safe side, bank on having to wear it full-time for a year after the braces come off. From then on, you’ll need to develop a routine that allows you to wear it when you go to bed at night. Fortunately, these are not difficult to get used to. You’ll have the routine down fast.
It’s a fairly simple daily routine. If you’re wearing them throughout the day, take them out a few times to rinse them off. The rest of it is simply a matter of remembering to put it in and looking after it properly. Here’s what you need to do: