You may not know it, but retainers are a BIG part of your standard course of orthodontic treatment! After months or even years of undergoing orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth, the last thing you want is for your teeth to shift back to their original positions. And the fact is, if you aren’t consistently wearing a retainer, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists reports that retainers are an essential part of orthodontic treatment. Retainers are custom-made orthodontic devices that help maintain the new positions of your teeth after braces or clear aligners. But what exactly does a retainer do, what types are available, how long do you need to wear it, and how do you take care of it? Let’s explore these questions in detail.
Here at Periago Orthodontics, we know you have questions! That’s why we’ve decided to write down a quick overview of your new retainer – What are they? Why am I wearing one? How do I take care of it? – read on to find out!
What Does a Retainer Do?
After you finish up your course of treatment with braces or clear aligners, your teeth need time to settle into their new positions. During this time, your teeth are susceptible to shifting. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, teeth must be retained in their new position long enough for the bone and ligament surrounding them to reorganize and stabilize. Retainers help prevent this by holding your teeth in their new positions until they stabilize. Simply put, a retainer keeps your teeth from moving back to their original positions. Without a retainer, your teeth may shift back, undoing all the progress made during your orthodontic treatment.
What Types of Retainers are Available?
There are several types of retainers available, including:
- Hawley Retainers: These retainers are made of plastic and wire and are designed to fit snugly against your teeth. They are removable and can be adjusted by your orthodontist as needed.
- Clear Retainers: These retainers are made of clear plastic and are custom-made to fit your teeth. They are also removable and can be adjusted by your orthodontist. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, “Clear retainers are less noticeable than Hawley retainers and can be worn on the upper or lower teeth” (1).
- Fixed Retainers: These retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth and are not removable. They are usually made of a thin wire and are designed to stay in place for several years. According to the American Dental Association, “Fixed retainers are often used on lower front teeth, which tend to shift more than other teeth” (2).
Your orthodontist will recommend the type of retainer that’s best for you based on your specific needs and the extent of your orthodontic treatment.
How Long Will I Wear My Retainer?
The length of time you need to wear your retainer depends on several factors, including the extent of your orthodontic treatment and how well your teeth stabilize in their new positions.
In general, most orthodontists recommend wearing a retainer full-time for the first few months after your braces or clear aligners are removed, followed by nighttime wear for at least a year or more. After that, your orthodontist may recommend wearing your retainer a few nights a week to maintain your results.
How Do I Take Care of My Retainer?
Taking care of your retainer is essential to ensure that it stays clean and in good condition. Here are some tips from Dr. Periago for caring for your retainer:
- Clean your retainer regularly: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap to clean your retainer daily. According to the American Dental Association, toothpaste is not recommended to clean your retainer.
- Store your retainer properly: When you’re not wearing your retainer, store it in its case to protect it from damage or loss. Be sure and keep it away from pets or small children who may mistake it for a toy.
- Avoid eating or drinking while wearing your retainer: This can damage your retainer and increase your risk of tooth decay.
- Don’t expose your retainer to heat: High temperatures can warp or melt your retainer. Don’t leave it in direct sunlight, on a heater, or in a hot car.
- Check your retainer regularly for signs of wear or damage: If you notice any cracks, chips, or other damage, contact your orthodontist right away. Wearing a damaged retainer can be uncomfortable and may cause your teeth to shift.
More questions? Give us a call!
Thanks so much for learning more about your retainer with Periago Orthodontics! Remember, wearing a retainer is a crucial step in maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment. Retainers help prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original positions and ensure that your smile stays straight and healthy.
At Periago, we’re proud to serve the amazing people of New Albany, Floyds Knob, Corydon, and the surroundings, and we’re always ready to answer any questions you might have. So what are you waiting for? We’re psyched to see your smile!