Getting your braces off is a great feeling. You’re finally free of the mouthful of metal. But even though your braces have been removed, your orthodontic care is not over. If you want to keep your teeth as straight and perfect as they are now, you’ll need to wear retainers.
After Invisalign® treatment, wearing retainers won’t be much different than what you’ve been doing the past few years. They are very similar to your plastic aligners.
Do you have some questions about retainers following braces or Invisalign? Here’s what you should know.
What are retainers?
Retainers are orthodontic appliances that hold the position of the teeth to prevent shifting. They are sometimes made of plastic, a combination of plastic and metal, or just metal. Here are the different types:
- Clear trays. These are made of clear plastic and fit over your teeth just like Invisalign aligners do.
- Hawley type. These are partly made of plastic that fits against the soft tissue behind the teeth with a metal wire that wraps around the front side of your teeth.
- Fixed retainers. These consist of a metal wire that is permanently attached to the back side of the lower teeth. This retainer has some distinct pros and cons. The pro is that the retainer is permanent so you never have to worry about remembering to wear it or risk losing it. The con is that it is more difficult to clean around, requiring you to thread your floss underneath the wire when flossing. Another consideration: if you’re going to have to wear a removable upper retainer anyway, why not just wear a removable bottom retainer as well?
Your orthodontist will recommend the best type of retainer for you to keep your teeth in proper alignment for the long term, taking your lifestyle into consideration.
How much do I need to wear my retainers?
Retainers are typically removable and will only need to be worn at night after the first week or two, so they are barely even an inconvenience. During the first week it is recommended that you wear your retainers all the time so that you can get used to them and to keep teeth from shifting, as they are more prone to do so in the first week after having your braces removed.
What happens if I forget to wear my retainers?
If you forget to wear your retainers for too long, they may not fit when you put them in again, meaning your teeth have shifted. If they feel tight when you put them in, it could mean that you forgot to wear them the night before. In this case wear them for the night and also the next day to ensure your teeth shift back into place.
If your teeth shift too much, you may have to go through the entire process of wearing braces or aligners again, which is something no orthodontic patient wants to do. Be responsible about wearing your retainers and you can keep your teeth straight for the rest of your life.
How should I clean my retainers?
The best thing to do is brush your retainers after you brush your teeth every morning. It is important to brush both your teeth and your retainers to keep tartar and plaque from building up. Dry your retainers and store them in the case your orthodontist provided you. The case keeps them safe, especially from pets who seem to think retainers make a good chew toy.
Achieve and Maintain Straight Teeth With Andover Orthodontics
Orthodontic treatment is a team effort between the patient, the parent, and the orthodontist. Dr. Broccoli at Andover Orthodontics can help you to achieve straighter teeth, as long as you do your part to get them that way and keep them that way. It is necessary to follow your orthodontist’s instructions while wearing your braces and about wearing your retainers afterwards. Cooperation is the key to success.