Retaining Your Perfect Smile
Braces and other orthodontic treatment will help give you your best, most beautiful smile – but the “retention” phase of orthodontics is just as important to ensure you can enjoy those great results for life.
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that is used to help hold your teeth in place to prevent shifting, or “relapse,” once orthodontic treatment is finished.
Types of Orthodontic Retainers
Retainers typically come in three main types:
1. Fixed, or permanently attached (bonded) to the back of your teeth using a wire to hold your teeth in place. Fixed retainers are convenient because they are permanently attached to your teeth, which means you won’t have to worry about forgetting it at home. Fixed retainers do require a bit of extra effort when brushing and flossing, just as with braces, to get around the wire.
2. A Hawley Retainer consists of a acrylic portion that sits on the roof of your mouth or under your tongue, and a wire that holds your teeth in place. The acrylic portion can be made in a variety of colors. This retainer is removable, which makes it easy to clean, but also may make it more prone to breakage or loss. Your orthodontist will provide you with a hard carrying case to keep your Hawley retainer clean and safe when you’re not wearing it.
3. Clear plastic removable retainers look a lot like an Invisalign aligner, and are made using an impression of your teeth.Clear removable retainers are a great option because they are easy to clean and virtually invisible to others.
Taking Care of Your Retainer
Caring for your retainers is normally quick and easy. Removable retainers should be brushed with a toothbrush and water or toothpaste, and rinsed then dried. When not in use, your retainer should be stored in a hard case, and the case should also be kept clean. Fixed, or bonded retainers should be kept free of food particles and debris, using the same brushing and flossing techniques as if you had braces. Your doctor will examine your retainers during regular visits, so it’s important to bring them with you during your check-up appointment. Most retainers will last for years, but they do need to be replaced or rebonded at times. If you break your retainer, it’s important to contact our office to have the retainer repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Your orthodontist will consult with you to determine which type of retainer is best for you. It’s very important to wear your retainer(s) as instructed by your orthodontist, in order to ensure that all of the hard work you put in during orthodontic treatment will last for the rest of your life.