If you’ve spent months wearing braces or dutifully working through your series of clear aligners, you’ve probably been looking forward to the day you were free to enjoy a lovely straight smile. But there’s one more step in your orthodontic journey, and that’s wearing your retainer.
At MyOrthodontist, we are just as excited as you are to show your new smile, but we also want to make sure that you maintain that perfect smile for the rest of your life. Whether you used clear aligners or traditional braces to achieve straight, well-aligned teeth, it’s important to wear your retainer to help create a stable final result and protect your financial investment.
Why you need a retainer
You may be wondering why you need a retainer, once the orthodontic work is complete, and your answer is in the name of the device. A “retainer” retains the position of your teeth.
Without a retainer, your teeth slowly return to their original position, making all of your effort at straightening them useless. Your teeth are much more likely to move back to their original position immediately after your teeth straightening treatment ends, so it’s most important to start using a retainer right after you’re finished with braces.
Your retainer can help you maintain your straightened smile for years after your corrective treatment. Over time, you need the retainer less and can begin reducing the number of hours you wear it.
Different types of retainers
Did you know there are different types of retainers? Some retainers must be worn for longer than others. Our team of experts can help guide you through your options and decide which is likely to work for you. The type of treatment you had along with other factors can help determine your best choice.
The most common retainer
When most people imagine a retainer, they think of the Hawley retainer, as it’s the most common. Hawley retainers may be made of rubber or clear plastic and a wire. The rubber or plastic sits against your gums and the wire runs along your teeth. You remove the device to eat, brush, and floss.
Clear plastic trays
More contemporary retainers are made of clear plastic that is molded to fit your teeth exactly, somewhat like clear aligners. This type of retainer fits snugly against your teeth and holds them in position together. Like the Hawley retainer, this type can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing.
A fixed or permanent retainer stays in all the time. Permanent retainers have thin wires that run behind your teeth to maintain your alignment. Our team uses dental cement to bond them into place.
Usually, a permanent retainer stays in for a few months. We check your retainer regularly to determine when it’s time to remove it. If you don’t trust yourself to remember to wear your retainer or if you worry about losing it, this might be a good option for you.
Wearing your retainer
If you have a removable retainer, you should also have a daily plan. Wearing your retainer for as long as possible each day provides the best results, particularly in the first few months. Eventually, you can switch to wearing your retainer just at night. After six months or so, you can start wearing your retainer for just a few hours each day.
If you don’t follow the recommendations for wearing your retainer, you risk wasting all of the time, effort, and money you put into your teeth straightening treatment. As you think about how to establish a routine to help you remember to wear your retainer, consider oral hygiene, too.
Retainers can trap bacteria, so it’s especially important to care for your teeth with regular, and proper, brushing and flossing. If you have questions about your technique, talk to our staff. Include cleaning your retainer in your mouth-cleaning routine each day.
If you have questions about wearing or caring for your retainer, we’re happy to make appropriate recommendations for your new and improved smile. Schedule an appointment at MyOrthodontist today at the North Carolina location nearest you. We also offer virtual consultations.