Why Are Retainers So Important?

Colorful retainers on a flat surface

The day you have been waiting for is finally here - your braces are coming off! You have the smile you have always dreamt of, but the days of wearing appliances on your teeth are not over. While your braces may have created your new, straight smile - it is your retainer that will maintain it and protect it for the future.

What is a Retainer

A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance designed to help your teeth ‘retain’ their new position. After your braces have shifted your teeth to create your perfect smile, you must wear a retainer to maintain those results.

Once your teeth are straight, it can take up to four to six months for their new position to become permanent. During that time, they may try to shift back to their old position, which is why the use of a retainer is so important.

Having another new mouth appliance to keep up with can be challenging - which is why LVL Orthodontics wants to give you the tips and tricks you need to keep your smile straight and shining.

Types of Retainers

Retainers can be metal, clear, fixed to the teeth, or removable. There are many advantages to each, so it is best to consult with your orthodontist on which appliance may be right for you.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers come in two main types - clear or wire. Clear retainers are made from thin, clear plastic and serve more like a mouthguard after your braces come off. Wire retainers, also known as plate retainers, have an acrylic base that is fit to the roof of your mouth.

No matter the type, if your retainer is removable, it should always be taken out for eating, cleaning, and physical activity.

Tips for Living with a Removable Retainer:

  • Keep it safe in its container when not in use. If you put it in a napkin while you eat, there is a higher likelihood that it will accidentally get thrown away.
  • Clean it regularly. Just like your teeth, your retainers are exposed to the same bacteria as the rest of your mouth. You can clean your retainer with a gentle brush after every meal or soak it in mouthwash or tablet cleanser.
  • Know when to wear it. Take your retainer out when you eat, brush your teeth, or participate in any sports.
  • Schedule regular retainer check-ups.

Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are wires that are cemented or bonded to the back of your teeth to help prevent them from shifting and can only be removed by your orthodontist or dentist. They are most often used if your orthodontist feels like your teeth may relapse or suspects you may not follow the instructions of a removable retainer.

While permanent retainers are beneficial because you can’t see them, and they can’t be misplaced, they do make aspects of oral hygiene more difficult, like flossing. You can use a threader to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Tips for Living with a Permanent Retainer:

  • Focus on hygiene. A permanent retainer can be a food and plaque trap, so brushing and flossing twice a day becomes pertinent to maintaining oral health.
  • Protect it from damage. Permanent retainers are capable of breaking if you chew hard foods, so be mindful of what you are eating.
  • Have it checked regularly. See your orthodontist for regular retainer check-ups.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

Call (469) 455-1355 to meet with one of our trusted oral providers and discuss which orthodontic treatment is right for you. At LVL Orthodontics, it is our mission to give you the beautiful, confident smile you deserve.

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