Imagine your orthodontist reveals the good news – the braces can finally come off! However, you have to start wearing retainers for a lifetime. It might seem like a chore, but not if you want to keep your teeth straight.
Why do you need retainers?
Retainers are an essential part of orthodontic treatment, as they help to maintain the results achieved by braces or other orthodontic appliances. After braces are removed or any other orthodontic treatment is completed, the teeth may tend to shift back to their original position over time. This is why retainers are necessary to keep the teeth in their new position and prevent them from moving back.
Retainers work by applying a gentle force to the teeth to keep them in their new position. They can be either removable or permanent and are custom-made for each patient’s individual needs. Wearing a retainer as directed by your orthodontist can help ensure that your teeth stay in the proper position and prevent the need for further orthodontic treatment down the line.
Retainers are especially crucial during the first few months after orthodontic treatment when the teeth are most likely to shift. Over time, the need for wearing a retainer may decrease as the teeth settle into their new positions. However, even after the orthodontic treatment is completed, it is required that you wear a retainer as directed by your orthodontist to maintain the results of your treatment and prevent any future problems with tooth alignment.
Removable retainers are orthodontic appliances that the patient can remove from the mouth.
Removable retainers are made of plastic or acrylic and are custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth. They fit snugly over the teeth and are typically worn full-time for a few months after the braces are removed, after which the patient may only need to wear them at night.
There are several types of removable retainers, including Hawley retainers and vacuum-formed retainers. Hawley retainers consist of a plastic or acrylic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth or the bottom of the mouth, and a wire that wraps around the front of the teeth. Vacuum-formed retainers are made of clear plastic and fit over the teeth like a glove. They are similar to clear plastic aligners used in orthodontic treatment and are used to maintain the position of the teeth.
Permanent retainers, also known as fixed retainers, are orthodontic appliances that are bonded to the back of the teeth using a dental adhesive.
Permanent retainers are made of a thin wire that is custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth. The wire is bonded to the back of the teeth using a dental adhesive, and it remains in place until the orthodontist determines that it is no longer needed. Unlike removable retainers, permanent retainers cannot be removed by the patient.
The advantages of permanent retainers are that they are constantly working to keep the teeth in their correct positions, they do not require any special care or maintenance, and they are not visible from the front of the teeth. However, they can make flossing and brushing more challenging, and they may need to be repaired or replaced if they become damaged.
How to clean removable retainers
Cleaning removable retainers is vital to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent the build-up of bacteria and plaque that can cause bad breath and other dental problems. Here are some steps to follow for cleaning removable retainers:
- Remove the retainer from your mouth and rinse it under running water to remove any loose debris.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the retainer with water gently.
- Allow it to air dry before storing it in its case.
You can also use a cleaning tablet to soak your retainers. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using hot water, as it can damage the retainer.
Clean your retainer daily or as directed by your orthodontist to keep it fresh and hygienic.
Point to note: When the retainers are not in your mouth, be sure to keep them in a retainer box so that you will not lose or break them.
How to clean permanent retainers
Cleaning permanent retainers can be a bit more challenging than cleaning removable retainers, as they are bonded to the teeth and cannot be removed. However, with proper care, keeping your permanent retainer clean and free of debris is possible. Here are some steps to follow for cleaning permanent retainers:
- Brush your teeth regularly to remove food particles and plaque from your teeth and the retainer. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day to remove any debris that may be stuck between your teeth and the retainer. Use floss threaders or interdental brushes to clean around the wire of the retainer.
- Use a water flosser or oral irrigator to clean between the teeth and around the wire of the retainer. These devices can be beneficial for hard-to-reach areas.
- Avoid eating sticky or hard foods that can damage the retainer or cause it to become dislodged.
- Visit your orthodontist regularly for check-ups to ensure that the retainer is still in good condition and functioning correctly.
It is important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for wearing and cleaning for your retainers to make sure that it stays effective and maintains the results of your orthodontic treatment.