After getting your teeth straightened into the perfect position, you may wonder if any more work must be done after removing your current appliance. Your teeth are constantly shifting and will continue to shift out of place if left alone. At Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics, Dr. Yu and our team are here to share the importance of a retainer and the available types, as well as answer questions like why you need to wear one.
What Is a Retainer?
After completing your braces or Invisalign treatment, you will want your brand-new smile to stay in place for as long as possible. You can keep it in place by wearing a retainer. Retainers are custom-made dental appliances that help your teeth remain in place for a lifetime and protect them from relapsing into their original position.
They are made of either plastic, metal, or a combination. No matter which type you receive, you can count on it fitting perfectly inside your mouth thanks to digital impressions and 3-D printing technology advancements. These innovations have allowed us increasingly precise models to model your retainers from, making them more comfortable than ever.
How Long Do You Need To Keep It In?
Especially after wearing your braces or Invisalign for most likely more than a year, your teeth will need help staying in place after removing this appliance. That is where retainers come in. They replace the structured support your teeth have gotten used to. Dr. Yu will likely prescribe that you wear your retainer full-time every day for three to six months, depending on your needs.
Following this initial phase, wearing it every night will be sufficient to keep your teeth perfectly aligned. Of course, Dr. Yu will share the exact schedule she recommends for your case during your follow-up appointments.
The Importance of Wearing Your Appliance
As mentioned, wearing your retainer is the most effective way to keep all your hard work in place after finishing your treatment. Your teeth are set in bone, not concrete, meaning they constantly shift if left alone.
It Allows Your Tissue Time To Settle
The tissue around your gums and teeth needs time to establish and stay in place as your teeth settle into their final position. A retainer provides this stability as it adapts and allows your smile to conform smoothly! This way, your teeth are able to gradually get used to their new position with minimal discomfort to you in the process.
It Prevents Early Relapse
Wearing your new appliance as prescribed is very important early on to prevent your teeth from shifting back into a different position. It also prevents minor adjustments from occurring over time, which you may not initially notice. The more you keep to a schedule and establish your routines to help you remember when to have your retainer in, the better your teeth will look as time passes.
Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics offers two types of retainers depending on your dental needs. Some patients receive a combination of the two, while others may only require one. Dr. Yu will discuss the details of your retainer needs during your follow-up appointments and answer any questions you may have.
When you think of retainers, a removable one is likely the type you have seen before. Some consist of a clear plastic base with a metal wire outlining your teeth, while others resemble clear aligner trays. Both are custom-made to fit your final teeth structure and keep them in position.
Similar to Invisalign, removable retainers must be taken out before eating to ensure the appliance does not suffer any additional pressure it is not made to withstand. Should it break, please give our office a call as soon as possible so we can provide you with a replacement. Be sure to thoroughly clean your teeth before placing your retainer back in to remove any lingering pieces of food stuck in your mouth. It is also important to clean your retainer each night during your end-of-the-day brushing routine.
We also provide fixed retainers bonded to the inner side of your teeth, typically only covering the front four to six teeth. They consist of a thin, curved wire that sits flush against the surface. It gets glued in place with a special dental cement to provide long-term protection from relapse and eliminate the need to remember to put it in and take it out of your mouth.
Luckily, there is no time limit for wearing a retainer, as its job is to stabilize teeth. Fixed retainers are permanent appliances that allow for a discrete look while still doing an effective job.
Attend Your Scheduled Check-Ins
After beginning the retainer phase of your treatment plan, your follow-up appointments will be less frequent, though they are just as important to prioritize as ever. This dedicated time allows Dr. Yu to check on your teeth and ensure everything is going according to plan.
Because these appointments are intentionally spaced out, she can bring issues to your attention on time and keep your teeth healthy. They are also a perfect time to ask any lingering questions about treatment or how to keep your teeth in excellent shape long-term.
Protect Your Teeth From Shifting Back!
Our Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics team is here to help you continue your teeth alignment journey! Wearing a retainer is crucial to complete your treatment plan and help you maintain the smile you deserve. We proudly serve Portland, Windham, and the surrounding communities with their orthodontic needs. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Yu.