Orthodontic Retainers: What are they used for?

Orthodontic retainers are an essential part of maintaining your beautiful smile after you’ve completed orthodontic treatment. Retainers help keep your teeth in their new position and can be used for several years after orthodontic treatment.

This blog post will discuss orthodontic retainers, how they work, and why they are important for maintaining your smile.

What are orthodontic retainers?

Retainers are customized devices used after orthodontic treatment to help keep teeth in their new positions. These devices help stabilize the teeth and prevent them from returning to their original positions.

Types of orthodontic retainers

Different types of orthodontic retainers are available, and your orthodontist may recommend one that best suits your needs based on your specific dental situation. Here are some common types of retainers:

  1. Hawley retainers: Hawley retainers are among the most traditional orthodontic retainers. These retainers comprise a thin metal wire and a custom-fit acrylic plate. The wire is designed to fit along the front of your teeth, while the acrylic plate rests against the roof of your mouth.
  2. Essix retainers: Essix retainers are another popular type of orthodontic retainer. Their design is a clear plastic material molded to fit your teeth’ contours. They are virtually invisible and comfortable to wear.
  3. Bonded lingual retainers: Permanent retainers bound to the back of your teeth with dental cement. These retainers are made of a thin wire affixed to the back of your front teeth, usually the upper or lower one.

Why are retainers important after orthodontic treatment?

Once you have completed your orthodontic treatment, it’s important to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in their new positions. Here are the top 5 reasons why retainers are crucial for maintaining your perfect smile:

  1. Helps prevent teeth from shifting: Your teeth tend to return to their original position after removing braces. Wearing a retainer helps prevent this by keeping your teeth in place.
  2. Aids in jawbone stability: Retainers not only keep your teeth from moving, but they also aid in jawbone stability. It is particularly important for those undergoing significant jaw realignment during orthodontic treatment.
  3. Prevents the need for additional orthodontic treatment: Wearing a retainer consistently can prevent additional orthodontic treatment later. If you stop wearing your retainer, your teeth will likely shift, potentially leading to the need for additional treatment.
  4. Improves bite function: In addition to maintaining the alignment of your teeth, a retainer can also improve bite function. It can prevent issues such as TMJ disorder, speech difficulties, and difficulties with chewing and biting.
  5. Promotes better oral hygiene: The retainer’s removable design makes brushing and flossing your teeth easier. Wearing a retainer can promote better oral hygiene habits and prevent gum disease and cavities.

When should I wear my retainer?

After completing your orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will prescribe a retainer to maintain the position of your newly straightened teeth. Orthodontic patients typically wear their retainers for at least six months after removing their braces but many continue to wear them for long after that. 

However, the recommended time frame for wearing your retainer may vary depending on the severity of your case and your orthodontist’s recommendations.

How do I take care of my retainer?

 Here are some tips to help you care for your retainer:

  1. Clean it regularly: Your retainer will collect plaque and bacteria like your teeth. Clean it with a soft-bristled brush and lukewarm water daily. Avoid using hot water or abrasive cleaners, which can warp or damage the retainer.
  2. Don’t expose it to heat: Keep your retainer away from heat sources, such as hot water or direct sunlight. Heat can damage or warp the retainer, rendering it useless.
  3. Handle it with care: Be gentle when handling your retainer. Avoid dropping it, twisting it, or biting on it. Always store it in its case when not in use.
  4. Don’t wear it while eating: The retainer design cannot withstand the forces of biting and chewing. Remove your retainer before eating and store it in its case to avoid damaging it.

Final Thoughts

At Dream Orthodontics, we know how important it is to keep your newly aligned teeth in position. This is why we recommend using an orthodontic retainer after any orthodontic treatment.

Whether you need a fixed or removable retainer, we have options to suit your lifestyle and specific needs. Contact us at Dream Orthodontics to learn more about our different types of orthodontic retainers.