For kids and adults who have worn braces (which is most of us), it can be a long and arduous process from when braces are put on to the glorious day when they can be taken off to reveal a new smile. However, most people still need to wear a retainer after braces, to ensure that the hard work that went into their smile will not go to waste.
Do You Always Have to Wear a Retainer After Braces?
As humans, it can be easier to grasp concepts and ideas that have a due date. This applies to orthodontic work as well: we thrill in the expectation that our braces will come off after so many months or that an expander has a due date.
Wearing a retainer after braces, however, does not have a deadline. Once the braces come off, your retain becomes a permanent feature of your life if you want your teeth to remain in their new alignment. While the need to wear a retainer goes away, you may need to replace your retainer after a few years depending on how you take care of it.
How Frequently Should You Wear Your Retainer?
The frequency with which you should wear your retainer after braces depends on two main factors: retainer type and how long you’ve had the appliance. The key is to follow your orthodontist’s specific instructions because he or she will know what is best for your teeth.
There are three main types of retainer. Bonded or fixed retainers are permanent, so the question of when to wear it is a no-brainer—always as you can’t remove it. Bonded retainers still require regular care.
Removable retainers usually fall into two categories: wire retainers, also called Hawley retainers, and molded retainers (clear plastic retainers). The majority of surveyed orthodontists prefer to prescribe removable retainers after other orthodontic treatment. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on when to wear your removable retainer. Such instructions are likely to change depending on when you had your braces removed.
How Long You’ve Had Your Retainer
When you wear your retainer after braces also depends on how recently your braces were removed. It is common for the first three to six months for orthodontists to recommend full-time use (excluding mealtimes and cleanings). After that, wearing your retainer only at night is likely to be sufficient. Work with your orthodontist to determine the best personal treatment plan for you.
What Happens If You Neglect Your Retainer?
When it comes to wearing a retainer after braces, it can be tempting to let the habit lapse. However, the consequences of doing so can be dramatic. The alignment of your teeth is determined by the aging process and your genes, and orthodontic interventions like braces don’t change your genetic code.
If you neglect to wear your retainer after braces, you run the risk of your teeth reverting to their original alignment. This relapsing process is known as mesial drift, and the only way to prevent it is to wear your retainer regularly for the rest of your life. Otherwise all your orthodontia will have been in vain.
How to Care for Your Retainer
In order to keep it in good condition, you must take regular care of your retainer. This boils down to following your orthodontist’s instructions about how to treat the appliance. You should clean your retainer regularly, either by brushing or by submersion in a denture-cleaning solution. Avoid high heat.
When your retainer is not in your mouth, make sure it is in its case. Leaving it around leaves it open to mechanical and biological damage. Remember, you put that thing in your mouth. When you are wearing it, avoid eating or drinking anything other than water. Other beverages can stick between the appliance and your teeth or the roof of your mouth, fostering decay.
If you have a permanent retainer, ask your orthodontist how best to care for it. Suggestions will probably include the use of an interproximal toothbrush which makes removing plaque and tartar around bonded retainers easier.
Do You Need Orthodontic Services?
If you are in need of orthodontic services, you have come to the right place. We at Pobanz Orthodontics offer a variety of different orthodontic services from putting on braces to helping our clients find the perfect retainer. It is important to have access to a qualified and experienced orthodontist when it comes to taking care of your teeth or getting braces. That is why you should consider reaching out to us at Pobanz Orthodontics. For more information or to schedule an appointment, feel free to reach out to us today.