The day you’ve been waiting for has finally come – you’re getting your braces off! As you look at your bright, straight, new smile, you may be asking yourself, “Now what?” At Ashby Park Family Orthodontics, our expert orthodontists are here to help you navigate that next step.
Once your braces are off, it’s time to preserve that beautiful smile! The best way to do that: Wear your retainer. An orthodontic retainer preserves and stabilizes the results of your orthodontic treatment to ensure you keep your straight smile for life.
What is the Purpose of a Retainer?
The main purpose of a retainer is to preserve the results of your orthodontic treatment. Even after your treatment is complete, your bones will continue to change as you age, which means, your teeth will continue to move for the rest of your life. Orthodontists recommend wearing your retainer nightly, or no less than one night per week, for a lifetime.
Retainers limit the amount of movement in the position of your teeth. Wearing your retainer holds your teeth in alignment with your gums, jawbone, and muscles as they get used to their new placement. This is the best way to ensure that your smile stays in its new position. Remember, a tight retainer means your teeth are moving, and it’s up to you to keep your smile in tip-top shape!
Types of Retainers
Once you get your braces off, your orthodontist will make sure you get the right retainer for you. Retainers are custom-made for each patient and can be removable or fixed.
- Traditional removable retainers, sometimes referred to as a Hawley retainer, are made up of a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and attaches to a piece of acrylic that hugs the roof of your mouth. The metal wire can be adjusted by your orthodontist to continue minor movements of your front teeth if needed.
- Clear retainers are similar to Invisalign clear aligners. They are clear and discreet, providing a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to removable metal retainers. Clear retainers are made from a mold of your newly aligned smile and tightly fit around the contours of your teeth and mouth.
- Fixed retainers are retainers that are permanently fixed on your teeth! A fixed retainer consists of a metal wire bonded to the back of the top or bottom front teeth. Depending on your needs, your orthodontist may have you wear a fixed retainer for only a year, or it may be needed for life to maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment.
How to Clean Your Retainer
Keeping a retainer clean is just as important as keeping your teeth clean! To clean a retainer, gently brush it after meals and before you go to bed with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Never use hot water when cleaning your braces, as it can melt it or misshape it.
Benefits of Wearing a Retainer
Wearing a retainer provides great benefits for preserving your beautiful, new smile, even if it does add an extra step into your dental health routine.
- Removable retainers are a great option as they can be taken out for eating, dental hygiene routines, or for cosmetic reasons. Since they are removable, they can get lost easily. Carry your retainer case with you to store your retainer in between wears.
- If you don’t want to keep track of a removable retainer or worry about how many hours a day you’re wearing it, a fixed retainer might be a great fit for you.
- With a fixed retainer, you need to pay extra attention to your hygiene routine and flossing to prevent the buildup of tartar. Your orthodontist may recommend floss threaders to help you get to those hard-to-reach areas in between your teeth and your fixed retainer.