When your orthodontic treatment is complete, your orthodontist will give you retainers to help you maintain your new smile. A retainer is used to keep your teeth in the new positions that your braces or aligners have made possible.
The different types of retainers, their purposes, and proper care and maintenance are all covered in this comprehensive guide to preserving your smile for the long haul.
There are three steps that every orthodontic treatment encompasses:
- Diagnostic: In the first phase, the orthodontist will examine your teeth and bite, take photographs, and examine x-rays. After gathering this information, the orthodontist may make a thorough diagnosis of your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan.
- Treatment: Throughout the treatment, braces are used to gently shift your teeth into their proper positions while meticulously monitoring their progress. It is possible that additional intervention, like tooth extraction, will be required throughout the treatment period.
- Retention: Then the orthodontist will give you a retainer to use after your treatment is over to ensure that your new smile stays that way. Without effective retention, the benefits obtained throughout treatment would fail, making retention the most critical element of care.
After undergoing orthodontic treatment, patients often need to wear a retainer to ensure their teeth remain in their ideal placements. Retainers come in a variety of styles, but they all serve the same objective of "retaining" the outcomes of orthodontic treatment by maintaining the teeth in their new positions. A retainer is an integral part of your treatment because it helps your teeth remain in their proper positions and prevents them from shifting. Use a retainer as directed by your orthodontist to preserve the results of your orthodontic work.
What are the various types of retainers?
After having your braces taken off, your orthodontist will recommend one of the three different retainers. Both are given to help keep teeth from shifting once they have been moved.
A bonded retainer is the first form of retainer. During the first few post-treatment months, it is used to hold your teeth in place after your braces have been removed. If you need to wear your retainer 24/7 after orthodontic treatment, a bonded retainer is a considerable option.
The second category of retainer is the removable variety. You can take out your Hawley retainer, or wire retainer, to clean it and to eat. Remember that just because your retainer is removable doesn't mean you can ignore your orthodontist's advice on how often you should be wearing it.
The third and last type is plastic retainers. these retainers can also be taken out. It is custom-made to fit your teeth after they have been moved. Due to their low visibility and increased likelihood of being worn, retainers made of clear plastic have surged in popularity in recent years. Invisible aligners are used to straighten teeth, not to keep them in place, therefore this retainer is not the same thing.
It is important to adhere to your orthodontist's recommendations on how often and how long to wear your braces. Below are a few important questions that you might have in mind regarding your retainers and we are glad to answer them.
For how many hours per day do you wear retainers?
A bonded retainer must be worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, if your retainer is detachable, the guidelines will vary slightly. Depending on your condition and treatment, you may be given different guidelines to follow.
The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that, during the first four to six months after braces are removed, patients wear their detachable retainers 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except while they are eating or cleaning their teeth).
In spite of this, the majority of orthodontists in a 2010 poll advised patients to wear their detachable retainers constantly for at least 9 months after braces were removed.
If your orthodontist gives you the all-clear after a few months, you may be allowed to reduce retainer use to just at night while you sleep.
When your braces are taken off, how long should you wear your retainers for optimal results?
Over half of orthodontists in the aforementioned 2010 survey recommended removable retainers after orthodontic treatment was complete.
The majority of respondents advocate keeping these retainers in 24/7 for the first 9 months, and then reducing their use to just at night.
The necessity to wear a retainer is permanent; however, your retainers may need to be replaced after a few years.
40% of those polled indicated they recommend lingual retainers, which are permanently affixed to the teeth.
Your orthodontist will likely advise you to wear your retainers permanently, regardless of the type they suggest.
What will happen to your teeth if you don’t use retainers?
Your teeth shift somewhat as you go through life. If you've already had braces, you're probably aware of the fact that the position of your teeth can shift over time depending on a variety of factors. These include factors like your age and whether or not you're wearing braces.
Even after you have completed your orthodontic treatment, there is no guarantee that your teeth will remain in their new positions. If you do not wear your retainers as directed by your orthodontist, your teeth will tend to move back into the position they were in before you had orthodontic treatment.
This is a phenomenon that is referred to as relapsing. So if you do not use your retainers as directed, you may require additional orthodontic treatment within the next ten years, or possibly earlier. And if you try to go a few weeks or months without using your retainers, your teeth may shift, and your retainers may no longer correctly fit your teeth.
How to maintain the cleanliness of a bonded retainer?
Your teeth can be safeguarded by maintaining clean retainers. It is also possible that this will lengthen the lifetime of a removable retainer.
As part of your regular dental hygiene practice, you will need to clean a bonded retainer in order to keep it in good condition. Since a fixed retainer cannot be removed, you will need to use floss for not only the front of your teeth but also the retainer itself.
You won't get the hang of it right away, but after some practice, you will do it like a pro. To remove any plaque buildup or food particles from around your permanent retainers, be sure to slant your toothbrush both vertically and horizontally. This will ensure that you get every last crumb out.
How to maintain the cleanliness of removable retainers?
Every time you take out your detachable retainers, wash them in little lukewarm water to get rid of any bacteria. It is possible to prevent food from forming a crust on your retainers by giving them a quick rinse with your saliva while it is still moist.
If your orthodontist suggests that you soak your retainer when it is not being used, you have the option of purchasing a specialized product designed for that purpose.
You should also make it a habit to clean your retainers at least once a day by giving them thorough scrubbing with a toothbrush that has soft bristles and some toothpaste.
However, you should proceed with caution because many brands of toothpaste are abrasive and have the potential to scratch your retainer. Consider seeking the counsel of your orthodontist regarding the type that you should utilize.
If there are food particles that become lodged in your retainers, you can remove them by using a clean cotton swab that has been dipped in water. You shouldn't put your retainer in the dishwasher or try to clean it by boiling it in water.
What are the Pros of Using Detachable Retainers?
The advantages of removable retainers include the following:
- You are free to remove them whenever you choose, even when you are eating or when you are brushing your teeth
- aking an impression (mold) of your teeth to fabricate a removable retainer that will endure for years only takes between thirty seconds to one minute
- It is easy to clean these retainers by simply soaking them in a cleaning solution. This is strongly advised due to the rapid accumulation of bacteria that can occur on plastic retainers that can be removed
- The removable retainers make flossing much simpler for you.
The Bottom Line
It is critical to follow the recommendations of your orthodontist about the use of retainers if you want the results of your orthodontic treatment to last. Your instructions will be different depending on your particular requirements. Some individuals are required to wear retainers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a period of 4 months, but others will be directed to wear their retainers for 12 months.
After your braces have been taken off, almost every orthodontist will recommend that you continue to wear a retainer of some kind at night for the rest of your life. Even though the prospect of wearing retainers for the rest of your life may seem daunting, it is essential to do so in order to protect the results of your treatment.
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