Most people think that once your braces come off, your teeth will stay straight forever. But that’s not the case. Your teeth can shift out of place if you don’t have a way to retain them in position after your procedure. Fortunately, there’s one way to secure your smile after undergoing pricy dental work: use a retainer! A vital part of your orthodontic treatment, a retainer is designed to keep your teeth in place after you’ve gone through surgery or braces. Knowing how and when to wear your retainer properly ensures your teeth stay straight.
A few of the most common types of retainers a patient can receive are permanent retainers, wire retainers, and clear retainers. A permanent retainer is an unmovable small wire that is bonded with composite material to your lower incisors. A wire retainer is a removable device, adjusted to fit the roof of your mouth with a wire keeping the teeth in place. A clear retainer is completely see-through and molded to the shape of your teeth. Your dentist will discuss with you which retainer will align your teeth correctly for the next few months or years ahead.
The majority of patients are recommended to wear their wire retainer all day and all night for six months. It isn’t until you’ve had a follow-up with your doctor that he or she will tell you to limit your use to nighttime wear only. Even then, it’s important to wear your retainer as you sleep for four to six months afterward. Clear plastic retainer users often wear their device only at night, while patients with permanent retainers never take theirs off.
To keep your retainer clean and avoid bacteria buildup, place it under warm water after you remove it and before you put it back into your mouth. If you’re the owner of a wire retainer and want an even better clean, place a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush and softly scrub the top and bottom of the retainer. To clean your permanent retainer properly, floss and brush regularly behind the wire to avoid tartar buildup.
When you’re not using your retainer, place it in the case your doctor provided you so you won’t lose or damage it. By keeping it in top condition, you’re protecting your smile for the rest of your life!