Braces are a common part of orthodontics. After a person gets braces, though, the process is not quite over. They may then need an orthodontic retainer.
Retainers are often needed to keep teeth in place after braces. This is because the teeth will continue to move even after you’ve had braces. This is especially true if you’re a child or a teen. Your entire body will continue to grow during your teenage years.
Retainers take the shape of the upper and lower parts of the mouth. They are made of plastic and metal and while they all look similar, each retainer is custom-made to fit each person’s mouth. Therefore, no two are alike.
Why Do You Need a Retainer?
There are several reasons why you may need a retainer. One of the most common ones is to maintain the position of your teeth. Your teeth will naturally shift even after braces. This is because your body is growing, and this causes your teeth to shift. If you are an adult, your teeth likely won’t shift too much after having braces, but your orthodontist may still ask you to wear a retainer just in case..
Not everyone who wears a retainer has had braces. Some children and adults have them to help with speech problems. Others use them to close in gaps between teeth. Some have medical issues that require retainers.
What to Know About Retainers
No matter why you need a retainer, make sure to wear it as recommended. Your dentist may have you wear it 24/7 at first. Then, after several months, you only have to wear it at night. If you are making good progress after a year or so, then you may only have to wear it a few nights a week. Don’t stop wearing your retainer altogether unless instructed by your dentist. Otherwise, it may not fit anymore.
Another important thing to note about retainers is that they need to be kept clean. You may or may not remove your retainer while eating. In any case, it can harbor bacteria and plaque, so brush it daily. Ask your dentist how to best clean your retainer. They may not recommend toothpaste, so ask about a special solution. You should also keep your retainer moist at all times. If it dries out, it can warp or crack.
Types of Retainers
Your orthodontist will choose one of three retainers:
- Hawley retainer. This option is made of acrylic or plastic. In addition, it is attached to wire. The acrylic is molded to fit the inside of your mouth, while the wire goes across the front of your teeth. Hawley retainers are available in various colors and styles. Some even have patterns and sparkles, so you’re sure to find one that fits your style. These retainers are adjustable, so your dentist can tweak them as needed. These retainers are easy to clean and can last a long time. However, they are noticeable and hard to get used to. Some users even talk a little funny at first.
- Essix retainer. This option is made of clear plastic and is not noticeable, which makes them quite popular among teens.
- Permanent bonded retainer. This type of retainer is fixed to the teeth, so it stays in place and cannot be removed. It is typically placed behind the six front lower teeth. It retains teeth well and is not noticeable. Many people who use a bonded retainer move on to another type of retainer within a year. This type of retainer, however, can be uncomfortable at times. It is also hard to floss with a bonded retainer in place, so you may need to use special threaders and other tools to effectively floss your teeth.
It’s important that your teeth stay in place, especially after having braces. Contact our team today!
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