importance of retainers after orthodontic treatment | importance of wearing retainers

The Importance of Wearing Retainers After Orthodontic Treatment

The big day is here! Your braces are finally coming off and you can show your perfect smile to the world! Congratulations on achieving this important milestone!

But there’s a critical last stage of your orthodontic treatment that should not be ignored – getting your retainers from your orthodontist. You may be wondering about the importance of retainers or how long you’ll have to use them. The last thing you want is for all your hard work, money, and time to be tossed away simply because you didn’t wear the retainer properly. Or at all.

In this article, we break down what you need to know about retainers for your teeth during this retention phase, including exactly why they are so important.

What Is a Retainer?

Whether you are getting retainers after braces or after Invisalign, these orthodontic appliances all have one goal: to retain the perfect alignment of your teeth now that your active treatment is completed. This is called orthodontic retention.

Teeth will shift slightly after the braces are removed or after your aligners are no longer needed. This is normal and is especially true if your body hasn’t finished growing. But even adults experience this movement in their teeth. It is the result of daily chewing, biting down, speaking, and swallowing. It takes some time for your teeth to solidify in their newly-aligned positions after wearing braces or using clear aligners. So, the retainer holds them in place during this solidification period. If you don’t use your retainer, teeth can quickly move back, or relapse, into the previous positions. In some cases, braces or aligners will be needed again due to patients not using their retainer as directed.

To prevent this, your orthodontist will customize your retainer by molding it to your new smile. It may feel tight at first but that won’t last long. The retainer will fit as long as you wear it consistently. By using it as directed, your teeth will remain in the alignment you all worked so hard to achieve.

Are There Different Kinds of Retainers?

Good question! And the answer is, yes. The two most common types of retainers are removable and fixed. Your orthodontist will determine the type you will use based on your individual situation. Here is some important information about both types:

Removable Retainers

Just as their name implies, this type of retainer is taken out of your mouth. You remove it when you eat, when you clean it, and when you clean your teeth. By removing the retainer, you can most effectively maintain a solid oral health routine. And you don’t have to be concerned with eating only certain kinds of food. However, the danger of the retainer being removable is that you can more easily lose it or forget to put it back in. 

Fixed Retainers

A fixed retainer is made up of a thin wire that is bonded to the backside of the teeth. It can’t be removed by the user, only by the orthodontist. This type of retainer is extremely effective at keeping teeth in place. The downside is that it is more difficult to keep clean and it is harder to keep your teeth clean around it. Your choices of food will also be limited while you have a fixed retainer. 

The type of retainer that is best for you will be determined by your orthodontist. It is then up to you to carefully follow their instructions to best protect that perfect smile!

How Long Will I Have to Use a Retainer?

You are anxious to have any trace of metal or plastic out of your mouth, which is understandable. Even worse, though, would be having to wear braces again. But, you are probably wondering, how long do you have to wear it?

For most people, the first three to six months are the most critical after your braces are removed. Your teeth are solidifying into their new places and the retainer is ensuring this happens. You will need to wear the retainer for up to 20 hours each day, removing it to eat and brush your teeth. 

If you miss a day or two, not much damage will be done, but longer than that can allow teeth to slowly move out of alignment. If, for some reason, your retainer suddenly doesn’t seem to fit any longer, don’t force it! You can harm your teeth or break the retainer.

After six months, you may be instructed to wear the retainer only at night for the next one to three years. The average is 24 months. After that, you will probably only need the retainer two to three nights a week since your teeth will be more firmly set into place by then. 

So, listen to your orthodontist carefully as the instructions for your retainer are explained to you. Ask all the questions you have and don’t hesitate to contact your orthodontist’s office if you are uncertain in the future about your retainer and its use. And If you are having difficulty maintaining the schedule given to you, meet with your orthodontist to find a solution.

Stay on the Path to Your Beautiful Smile With Your Retainer!

As you can see, a retainer is a critical part of your treatment after braces or clear aligners. Your orthodontist will guide you on the type of retainer that is best for you and its proper use to help your teeth settle and then remain in their new, straight alignment. 

The orthodontic team here at White Plain Orthodontics is the trusted local provider of orthodontic treatment in White Plains, NY. We can help you properly maintain your beautiful smile after your active orthodontic treatment is complete.

Contact us today to set an appointment and discuss your questions and concerns about using a retainer.