An All-inclusive Guide to Retainers after Braces

Retainers After Braces

Wearing retainers after braces is an essential step for optimal benefits from your orthodontic treatment. If you fail to wear them consistently, your treatment might end up being worthless.

Let us understand why you need to wear retainers after braces:

  • To maintain a stable bite – Post-treatment, your jawbones, and mouth tissues need time to adapt to the changed tooth positioning. In this case, the retainers guide your teeth to remain in the new arrangement and ensure that there is minimal relapse.
  • To acquire suitable spacing between teeth – For teenagers, wearing retainers after treatment becomes paramount because their undeveloped wisdom teeth would need space on arrival. It is necessary to keep enough space for them to emerge without disturbing the other teeth. Retainers will help prevent overcrowding.
  • To preserve the new locations of teeth– Your teeth retain memories of their previous places in your mouth. They generally tend to move back to their original positions if not held back by the retainers. Wearing retainers will ensure that your orthodontic treatment and its effects persist as expected.
  • To avoid treatment reversal – Relapsing of teeth is a common phenomenon in the absence of appropriate aftercare following any orthodontic treatment. It can be avoided entirely, the only condition being wearing retainers. Your orthodontist will prescribe wearing retainers following the extraction of your dental braces.

Types of Retainers:

  • Bonded retainers – These are permanent retainers because they get fixed onto your teeth. Patients who need a steady residence of retainers in their mouths post-treatment are the ideal candidates for bonded retainers.
  • Hawley retainer – It is a removable retainer, also known as a wire retainer. The patient can remove them for eating or cleaning. Although, you should note that even if these are detachable, they have to be worn regularly the rest of the time, as per instructions.
  • Clear plastic retainer – These are other removable type retainers and also go by the name molded retainer. As the name suggests, they get molded according to the shape of your teeth for exact fitting. Since they are transparent and invisible, people are more inclined to choose them for hassle-free regular wear.

How to Take Care of Your Retainers?

Maintaining clean retainers is crucial to sustaining your oral hygiene and keeping your mouth smell-free. It might seem daunting at first, but it isn’t difficult to clean retainers. You should know that just like your teeth, your retainers accumulate bacteria, plaque, and tartar by staying in your mouth every day.

To take good care of your retainers, form a habit of cleaning your retainers while you are brushing your teeth. Apart from that, make use of the availability of other helpful products such as soaking solutions and floss to achieve a clean pair of retainers.

Below is a list of the different types of retainers, steps to keep them clean, and other tips for proper maintenance:

How to Clean the Different Types of Retainers?

  • Hawley and clear plastic retainers – Since these are removable, you should clean them directly after you remove them. That makes it easier to clean off any debris before they dry out. Then, brush them using lukewarm water and a soft toothbrush. Cotton swabs and dentist-recommended soaking solutions will help in cleaning the deeper ridges and corners while preserving the integrity of your retainers.
  • Fixed, or bonded retainers – Flossing is essential to clean the permanent retainers. Use a floss threader to reach in-between your two lower front teeth. Make sure to get the floss under the retainer wire comfortably without damaging it. Then all you have to do is, pass the floss between each tooth to slide off the food build-up.

General Tips to Take Care of Your Retainers:

  • Keep them away from heat – Retainers are not capable of handling excessive heat, which can bend and ruin their shape. Only use lukewarm water to clean them and always keep them away from boiling water, microwaves, dishwashers, washers, and dryers.
  • Clean the retainer case too- If you want to avoid wearing retainers that stink, it is crucial to clean the case regularly. Cleansing the cover safeguards your retainers from dust, dirt, and germs that are present on it. Use warm soapy water to rinse it every day.
  • Replace if needed – Due to the constant use of retainers, they are bound to undergo wear and tear. Replacing them as and when needed is the ideal solution. Your fixed retainers might get out of shape in about six months, due to their bonded designs. While the removable ones can last up to 5-10 years, provided they receive proper care.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals – Harsh cleansers won’t help you achieve a squeaky-clean retainer. In fact, brushing is a sufficiently effective technique if you can’t find any dentist-recommended supplies. Plus, the chemicals present in these solutions may cause harmful reactions in your body too.

Wearing retainers after braces and keeping them clean will add on to your teeth straightening process. That will, in turn, ensure a fuller, healthier, and well-treated smile. For additional reliable assistance on retainers, visit Putnam Orthodontics at Carmel and Briarcliff Manor, New York.

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Dr. Satish Pai

Dr. Satish Pai – an Ivy League trained dentist and a faculty at Columbia University, believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great while boosting confidence.  As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to not only creating perfect smiles for his patients but also educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health. Spending time with his family always brings a smile on his face. 

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