Orthodontic treatment is a process, and can be expensive. Once you have completed your treatment with braces, it is important to follow the maintenance plan that your orthodontist sets in place to make sure your teeth stay where you have worked so hard to get them. Wearing a retainer after braces is an important part of any maintenance plan. It keeps your bite in line and your smile the way you planned it. The type of retainer and length of treatment depends on the individual, but most retainers are worn for years after braces are removed.
Different Types of Retainers
Retainers are very specific to each patient. A custom mold or impression is taken by your orthodontist to ensure the right fit for your retainer. The type of retainer chosen by your orthodontist is dependent on your clinical needs and the likelihood that you will comply with your maintenance plan. There are two types of retainers available to patients:
Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire across the back of the upper or lower front teeth. Although they have the best outcome, these are more difficult to clean because they are fixated to your teeth. These are a great option for those who might not comply with the routine of wearing their retainer.
Removable retainers are a combination of a wire, acrylic impression, and hooks that are inserts onto your back teeth. These are easier to clean because they can be removed. They are worn daily. Initially, most orthodontists plan to have you wear the retainer 24/7 for three months. At that point, you will be assessed to see what your needs are when it comes to your retainer. In some cases, you plan will change to only wearing the retainer for a few hours a day or only wearing it at night. Because the removable retainers can be lost or damaged, can melt or change shape when exposed to high temperatures, and need to be properly stored, some patients choose to go with a fixed retainer to eliminate the worry.
Maintenance of Your Retainer
It is necessary to follow routine visits with your dentist and orthodontist when you are wearing your retainer. Your dentist will make sure that your supporting teeth are free of plaque and tartar. They will carefully inspect the teeth that are directly in contact with the retainer. In addition to scheduling regular checkups to update your maintenance plan, talk to your orthodontist about how to clean your retainer. Cleaning your retainer properly is important to your health. Bacteria can grow on the acrylic surfaces of your retainer. Use toothpaste to clean this area daily to avoid problems.
Wearing a retainer is as important to your orthodontic treatment as wearing braces to begin with. If your child has completed their orthodontic treatment, talk to their orthodontist about the best option for the individual needs when it comes to choosing a retainer.