At the end of your treatment plan, you will likely take home a small but powerful appliance known as a retainer. At Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics, we are here to share its importance and why cleaning and caring for a retainer is important. Understanding its power is the first step in appreciating its role in maintaining the hard work you put into your new smile. Read on to learn more about the different types offered, how to care for your retainer, and attending follow-up appointments.
The Role of a Retainer
Retainers are custom-made dental appliances that ensure your straightened smile stays in place for a lifetime. They are typically made of either plastic or metal material, depending on the type you are given.
Whether you wore Invisalign, clear braces, or metal braces, you can expect to wear a retainer after completing your smile alignment treatment. They are designed to fit perfectly inside your mouth according to their final position for maximized comfort.
How Long Will You Wear It For?
Upon initially receiving your retainer, you can expect to wear your retainer full-time for the first three to six months to ensure your teeth stay in position as long as possible and prevent immediate relapse. After this, simply wearing it each night will be sufficient. Dr. Yu will let you know the exact schedule to follow your follow-up appointments.
Remember that your teeth are set in bone, not cement. They will begin shifting back to their original position if your retainer is not worn according to schedule, so it is essential to remember to keep it in as instructed. As no harm is done in wearing your retainer for too long, there is no need to worry if you forget to take it out.
Types of Retainers
Retainers are available in two styles at Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics: fixed and removable. Some may get both to maintain the work accomplished during treatment; however, Dr. Yu will discuss each option and their benefits with you in detail.
Also known as bonded retainers, fixed retainers are thin, curved wires glued to the inner surface of your teeth. They provide long-term support with the benefit of not requiring you to remember to take them in and out of your mouth.
These permanent appliances are often utilized on the lower front teeth as this is one of the most likely spots for your tooth alignment to move out of place. They are an effective and discreet option to keep your teeth in position.
You most likely have seen friends or family wearing retainers in the form of removable appliances. They are made out of either clear plastic, similar in appearance to aligner trays used during Invisalign treatment, or a combination of clear plastic and thin metal material. Each is custom-made to fit your tooth position. Removable retainers must be taken off before eating meals and brushing your teeth to keep them in perfect condition.
Though a less discreet option than the lingual placement of a fixed retainer, the benefit of relying on a removable retainer is that they are more straightforward to clean, and regular dental upkeep is less involved.
How To Clean and Care For Your Appliance
Both kinds of retainers require different attention to detail. Regular retainer upkeep is essential as it prevents excessive plaque and bacteria build-up in the long run. You are also able to avoid common complications such as bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. The more frequently you can maintain these habits, the better off your dental health will be.
As mentioned, a fixed retainer stays permanently glued inside of your mouth. Therefore, all maintenance happens within your mouth. You do not need to worry about snagging your toothbrush or avoiding your retainer, so you can continue to brush your teeth as if they were not there to keep it clean.
When flossing, the wire across your teeth will prevent your floss string or stick from reaching your gums. To ensure you can still effectively get rid of any pesky food particles, Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics will provide you with special flossing threaders that allow you to weave your floss between your teeth and reach below the wire.
Though this step requires extra time set aside during morning and nightly routines, it is very important to accomplish this at least once a day to prolong the functionality of your retainer and keep it clean.
Removable retainers require twice-daily cleaning, with the help of a soft-bristled toothbrush, some warm water, and unscented anti-bacterial soap. You will want to use a different toothbrush than the one you clean your teeth with.
After removing the retainer from your mouth, simply wet it with lukewarm water, apply some soap, and use your toothbrush to scrub each crevice lightly. Thoroughly rinse it again with warm water and ensure you get rid of all soap residue.
The Importance of Follow-Up Appointments
Even after your braces are removed and you wear your retainers, you can still expect follow-up appointments with Dr. Yu to ensure your teeth have not moved from their final position and are still in excellent condition. This dedicated time allows her to address any issues that may have arisen and provide you with any medical advice on the longevity of your treatment.
If you have any questions about your retainer or how to best care for your teeth after treatment, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly front desk staff. They can help you with any concerns and ensure they are directed to the right people.
Your Retainer Keeps Your Teeth On Track!
Dr. Yu and our team strive to educate our patients on everything they need to know when it comes to being responsible for their orthodontic health outside of our office. We want you to feel confident in taking the reigns! Contact either of our offices in Portland or Windham to schedule your next appointment or a free consultation to be seen by Dr. Yu. We can’t wait to see you!