Orthodontics straighten your teeth to correct a bad bite, teeth that are crooked or protruding, misaligned jaws, and other malocclusions. Over time, untreated misaligned teeth can cause problems with talking, chewing food, becoming cavity-prone, inviting gum disease, and end up creating poor oral health overall.
It is why orthodontic treatment is so important. Straightening teeth has many benefits, like making it easier to keep tooth and gum surfaces free from bacterial plaque, whether or not you use metal or ceramic braces or clear plastic aligners to get the job done. Once this treatment is finished, the next goal is to keep your teeth in their newly aligned position to maintain your dream smile.
Whether you use traditional orthodontics or one of the popular clear aligner options on the market today, you will want to make sure your teeth stay aligned after the treatment ends. Retainers are created specifically for this task of maintaining your smile’s new alignment, and we recommend retainer wear for life.
Retainers Are for Life!
The job of your retainer is to keep your teeth in place after the orthodontic work is completed. One of the reasons is that newly aligned teeth still need to settle into your soft tissues and jawbone that supports them. It is what your retainer does, keeping your teeth from naturally shifting in the months and years to come. In this way, you allow your teeth to adjust to their new positions over time instead of migrating back to their original places. Your retainers are your support system to keep your smile aligned after all your hard work in braces.
When you first finish your orthodontic treatment, that first month can put you at the most risk for your teeth to relapse. Your teeth will try returning to their old position before your orthodontic intervention.
Wear your retainers for at least 12 hours every night. Anything less could result in movement, possibly requiring braces again for correction. Remove your retainers before eating and drinking, except when drinking water. Brush & floss your teeth after each meal or snack prior to re-inserting your retainers. Regular dental checkups and cleaning are recommended for the continued health of your gums and teeth. Remove your retainers when participating in any contact sport or physical activity. Practice speaking, reading or singing aloud. Initially, you may find it difficult to speak—this will help you get used to your retainers faster. Bring your retainers to every appointment.
Caring for Your Retainer
A retainer case is included with your retainers. When you are not wearing your retainers, we recommend that you always store
them in this case in order to protect them from loss or damage and away from pets as they love to chew on them. Brush your retainers with toothpaste every morning to keep them clean.
Long-term Retainer Wear
-Continue wearing your retainers at least 12 hours every night. Do this (forever) to retain your beautiful smile.
-Contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment, if your retainers are not fitting properly.
-Continue to see your dentist for routine cleanings and checkups.
-If you still have your wisdom teeth at the time you have completed your orthodontic treatment, your dentist should monitor/evaluate the need for removal. Erupting wisdom teeth can cause crowding and tooth movement.
-Major dental work may prevent retainers from fitting properly. In some situations, it’s possible that you may need to be fitted with new retainers.
What About Your Wisdom Teeth
If your wisdom teeth never erupted, or you had them removed, and you are at least 19 years old, you can reduce the number of nights you wear your retainers by following these guidelines:
You must wear your retainer(s) for 12 hours every night for the first three (3) years after your braces are removed. After three (3) years of nightly wear, you can wear your retainer(s) every-other-night for 12 hours each night for the next year. If you have been faithful in wearing your retainer(s) and your teeth have not shifted, you can reduce your retainer wear to every third night. Continue with this pattern in reducing your retainer wear until you get to once a week. Never go less than once a week – forever!
If at any time your retainer(s) are not fitting correctly, contact our office. If you break or crack your retainer, it should be replaced (charges will apply) to prevent relapse and retreatment.
Without a retainer, your teeth will eventually shift back to their original position. You can proactively protect your original investment of time, energy and money spent in orthodontic treatment by wearing and maintaining your retainer. Give us a call if you have any questions about straightening your smile.