What Is a Retainer?After your orthodontic treatment is complete, whether your braces have just come off or you have completed your treatment with clear aligners, you are provided with a retainer. A retainer is a removable device that is worn in your mouth. It is made to help prevent your new smile from shifting out of alignment. Traditionally, retainers consist of a base and a metal wire that surrounds your teeth. Today, retainers can be clear and look similar to clear aligners. Your retainer is made from an impression of your mouth, which ensures a proper fit and that it holds your teeth where they need to stay.
The main function of your retainer is to help hold your teeth in proper alignment following orthodontic treatment. We will instruct you as to how often your retainer should be worn. Typically, it is only worn at night while you sleep, but some individuals may need to wear a retainer all day and night for the first few weeks following the completion of orthodontic treatment. Neglecting to wear your retainer could result in your teeth shifting out of alignment, which can then lead to the need for a second round of orthodontic treatment later in life. Consistency is crucial for ensuring that your new smile remains beautiful and healthy.
Caring for Your RetainerFor your retainer to provide you with the best possible results, it is essential that you take good care of it. Just like your teeth, your retainer can collect plaque and bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Brush your retainer gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a mild soap. You may also choose to use a denture cleaner. Avoid using toothpaste on your retainer, which can otherwise lead to microscopic scratches that can harbor bacteria.
When not in use, store your retainer in a hard, protective case with ventilation holes. The holes allow airflow to prevent bacterial growth. Make sure that your retainer is kept out of reach of young children and pets. Do not expose your retainer to high heat or direct sunlight and do not wash it in the dishwasher.
What About a Fixed Retainer?A fixed retainer is a metal wire that is attached to the back of your teeth by small brackets. The goal of this type of retainer is to provide stronger retention. It is made to stay in place permanently unless it is determined it is no longer needed. Fixed retainers are often used if you suffer from bruxism if you have had spaces between your teeth or teeth that were severely rotated before treatment, or you play a reed instrument such as a clarinet or saxophone. Cleaning around the brackets and wire is essential for keeping the area clean and preventing the formation of cavities and gum disease.
While your braces have done an excellent job at providing you with straighter teeth, a healthier mouth, and more beautiful smile, there is still a chance that all of that work can be undone. A retainer is essential for helping you to maintain your new smile. For more information, call Naborowski Orthodontics at (630) 519-1035 today.