After months or even years of braces, patients are only too happy to finally be done with treatment. To make sure the smile you leave our office with stays with you forever, you’ll need to be fitted with and wear a retainer. Retainers prevent relapse and are a way to make sure the movements your orthodontist made are permanent. Get the answers to frequently asked questions about retainers and maintaining a healthy smile after receiving orthodontic treatment from Dr. Dennis Flanagan at Dennis J. Flanagan DDS MS.
- What is a Retainer?
- Different Types of Retainers
- Wearing Your Retainer
- What if My Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore?
What is a Retainer?
After having braces you’ll be fitted for a retainer. Your orthodontist will make a retainer for you to ensure that your teeth are stable and straight long into the future. Wearing a retainer is what keeps your smile straight and beautiful long past the day you stop wearing braces. A retainer is essential because during orthodontic treatment, the jaw and surrounding facial bones are moved frequently. Retention is the best way to prevent your teeth from relapsing.
Different Types of Retainers
There are different types of dental retainers that are available to patients. Each type of retainer has its own advantages and disadvantages. The three most common types of retainers are Hawley retainers, clear retainers, and invisible aligners.
Hawley retainers are the most common type of retainer. They are made of metal and acrylic, and they are adjustable. Hawley retainers are very durable and can last for many years. However, they are also the most visible type of retainer, and some people find them to be uncomfortable.
Clear retainers are made of plastic and are nearly invisible when worn. They are less durable than Hawley retainers, but they are more comfortable. Clear retainers also need to be replaced more often than Hawley retainers.
Invisible aligners are the most invisible type of retainer. They are made of clear plastic and are molded to fit the teeth. Invisible aligners are very comfortable, but they are also the most expensive type of retainer.
Wearing Your Retainer
After you finish Invisalign or braces, you should wear your retainer as much as possible. Your dental professional typically recommends you wear it both at night and during the day, at least for the first few months. When you aren’t eating, drinking, or playing sports, retainers should be in! Your orthodontist will tell you when you can switch to wearing it only when you sleep. And later, you can wear your retainer four to five times a week. After a while, the bones will solidify, and your teeth are less at risk for relapse.
You should clean your retainers every night when you brush your teeth. You can use your toothpaste and cool water. For a deeper clean, you can try soaking your retainer in a denture cleaner. Keep retainers away from hot water, it can melt or disfigure the mold.
Here’s an important warning! Pets love to eat your removable retainers, so be sure to keep them out of reach! You’ll need a replacement, and retainers have sharp edges that could hurt your furry friend.
What if My Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore?
It’s inevitable that you’ll forget to wear your retainer occasionally. If you’ve missed just a night or two, you can most likely continue to wear your retainer as normal. If your retainer is a bit tight, but you aren’t forcing it in, wear it more for the next few days as your teeth readjust.
If you are not sure whether your retainer still fits properly, take it to your orthodontist or dentist. They will be able to tell you whether it needs to be adjusted or replaced. In most cases, a simple adjustment will suffice. However, if your retainer no longer fits well, you will likely need to get a new one made.
Wearing a retainer is important to maintain your new, straight smile. So, if you think yours doesn’t fit anymore, don’t wait to get it checked out.