Congratulations on getting orthodontic treatment for the health and appearance of your smile! Whether you wore braces or clear aligners, you will still need to wear a retainer to maintain that beautiful symmetry with your newly aligned teeth and bite. While wearing braces or clear aligners is the start of your orthodontic treatment, retainers are for life to ensure continued success.
Why Are Retainers Needed After Braces?
Your newly straightened teeth won’t be able to hold their new positions without retainers to maintain them. In orthodontics we call that retention, meaning your teeth retain their position instead of gravitating back to their old places.
Your teeth are actually kept in their place by a tissue layer of cementum, which weakens when the teeth are manually moved. Think of a rubber band, this layer of cementum will try to pull your gums back to where they started after your orthodontic treatment. Wearing a retainer keeps the cementum staying in its new position while your teeth and tissue fully adjust.
If you don’t wear a retainer, you allow your cementum and gums to shift back — retainers work by holding the tissue where it has been moved. Over time, your teeth will adjust to their new positions with the help of the retainer.
How Your Retainer Supports Your Smile and How To Care for It
1-Stabilizes your bite: This oral appliance gives your soft tissues and bone time to adjust to their new place when worn consistently. This is called stabilization as unwanted shifting is kept to a minimum.
2-Protects your mouth from improperly erupting wisdom teeth: If you have had orthodontic treatment in your teen years, your retainers will keep your newly erupting wisdom teeth from shifting your straightened teeth.
3-Keeps your bones and gums aligned with your teeth: With the help of your retainers, your teeth, bones and gums will stay strong and stable for years to come.
4-Prevents the need for additional orthodontic treatment later: Properly wearing your retainers (as instructed) means your teeth won’t shift out of the desired alignment you worked so hard to achieve.
Types of Retainers
-Hawley retainers: The base of these popular retainers are made from acrylic and metal bars that wrap around your newly straightened teeth on the top and bottom. Clean them every day to keep them looking and feeling their best!
-Clear retainers: These clear retainers are made from plastic that conforms to your teeth for a perfect fit while keeping them in place. Clean them every day to keep them looking and feeling their best!
To clean your retainers use toothpaste and brush them gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
What Not To Do With Your Retainers
Wear your retainers as directed and clean them using cool water to avoid warping (no dishwasher, hot water, alcohol or bleach to clean). Don’t wear your retainers while dining, and keep them in a sturdy container case when you take them out so you don’t lose them.
We hope you love your straightened teeth and are committed to protecting them by properly wearing your retainers. After investing in a beautiful smile, you can easily keep it that way by taking good care of your teeth, gums and retainers every day! If you have any questions about orthodontics or retainers, give us a call today! We love to help!