Getting your braces off is a big day! You can show off your smile proudly, and you can finally eat what you want — within reason of course. But getting your orthodontics removed is just a step in the journey to a healthy, beautiful smile.
Retainers are worn as the final step in your treatment to prevent your teeth from shifting again after your braces are removed. Let’s look at what retainers do and learn some ways to take proper care of them.
Why Wear Retainers?
A retainer is simply an appliance that does as the name suggests — it keeps teeth literally “retained” in their new position after orthodontic treatment has been completed. Without the pressure they apply, your teeth would drift back to their original positions. It also takes longer for the bones and gums to adjust to the teeth straightening.
Wearing retainers helps accelerate alignment and keeps your bite stabilized. For the first few months after treatment, it might be recommended that you wear your retainer all the time, except when brushing your teeth and eating.
The good news is that you won’t have to wear it 24/7 forever. Once your teeth have started to stabilize, you’ll usually only have to wear your retainer at night. It will vary from patient to patient, but after the first year or so, you may be able to only wear your retainer to bed at least two or three times a week indefinitely to keep the teeth in place.
Wearing the retainers as recommended is important. Nearly 50% of adults wearing orthodontics had braces when they were younger but didn’t wear their retainers. Even not wearing them for a short time before your teeth are stabilized can allow settling and shifting of the teeth to occur. And, while the movement of the teeth decreases over time, they can shift if wearing the retainer is totally neglected later.
Care of Retainers
You need to take care of your retainers so they can take care of you and do their job. Fortunately, it isn’t complicated to do.
Remove your retainer when you brush your teeth to avoid missing areas of your teeth or damaging the retainer. You can brush your retainers separately with a toothbrush and toothpaste or soak them in something mild like baking soda. (Using an alcohol-based mouthwash on your retainers can damage the plastic, as can boiling your retainer to remove germs).
You will be given a retainer case that you should carry with you. Whenever you eat, remove your retainer and put it in the case. There are far too many times where retainers have been wrapped in napkins or tissue and then mistakenly thrown away.
Whenever you play contact sports, remove your retainer and wear an approved mouth guard that is designed to protect your teeth. That’s not the retainer’s purpose and it and your teeth can be broken if you use it that way.
Love Your New Retainer!
Individual needs will differ. Our team will determine the best retainer for you and the time you will need to wear it, and will instruct you on how to care for it.
If you are in the Metro Detroit area and would like to find out more about braces and retainers or would like to get started on a new smile right away, contact us here at The Best Braces to set up an appointment today.