Care Following Orthodontics – Retainers

Retainers After Braces: What to Expect

Say goodbye to braces, but not to the perfect smile – retainers are the key! The process of maintaining that perfect smile continues with the use of retainers after braces. But why are retainers crucial, and what role do they play in securing the results of your orthodontic treatment?

Here, we’ll explore the significance of retainers, and the different types available, shed light on the typical timelines, and discuss potential issues you might encounter with retainers.

To guide you through the journey of retainer wear and address any questions or concerns, consider scheduling a consultation with our expert, Dr. Chew, at Chew Dental Group.

Why Do I Need Retainers After Braces?

Orthopedic treatments transform smiles, aligning teeth to achieve optimal aesthetics and functionality. However, the path to a beautifully aligned smile continues after removing braces or orthodontic appliances.

After the braces come off, your teeth tend to shift back to their original misaligned state. They tend to shift because the bone and surrounding oral tissues need time to adapt to the new alignment. Retainers act as guardians, preventing relapse and securing the smile transformation achieved through orthodontic treatment.

Types of Retainers

Retainers come in two main types – removable and fixed – each serving a distinct purpose in post-orthodontic care.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are typically made of plastic or acrylic and are custom-fitted to the shape of your mouth. You can easily take them out for eating, brushing, and flossing. Removable retainers are ideal for those who prefer flexibility in their oral care routine. Types of removable retainers include:

  • Hawley Retainer: consists of a custom-fitted acrylic base and a thin metal wire.
  • Essix Retainer: made of transparent plastic, custom-fitted to the teeth.
  • Fixed Retainers

    Fixed or bonded retainers consist of a thin wire affixed to the back of the front teeth. This type of retainer is not removable and provides a constant, subtle force to keep the teeth aligned. Fixed retainers are discreet and require minimal maintenance, making them a popular choice for long-term retention.

    The choice between removable and fixed retainers depends on various factors, including your lifestyle, preferences, and specific needs. Some individuals may benefit from combining both types during different phases of post-orthodontic care.

    How Long Do You Wear Retainers After Braces?

    The duration for wearing retainers after braces varies from person to person, and it’s ’ultimately determined based on your case. However, it’s normal to wear retainers for an extended period to make sure your teeth stay in the right place after getting braces.

    Full-Time Wear Initially

    After removing your braces, you may be required to wear your retainers full-time (i.e., throughout the day and night) for a certain period, usually several months.

    Transition to Nighttime Wear

    Once our Fremont dentist, Dr. Chew, determines that your teeth have stabilized, you may transition to wearing your retainers primarily at night.

    Long-Term Nighttime Wear

    Many orthodontists recommend long-term or lifelong nighttime retainer use to prevent your teeth from shifting over the years. If you do not wear your retainers as instructed, your teeth can gradually return to their original positions.

    Also, regular follow-up appointments are necessary to monitor your progress and make any adjustments to your retainer or treatment plan.

    4 Potential Issues with Retainers

    1. Discomfort or Soreness

    It’s normal to experience mild discomfort initially. Over-the-counter pain relievers and sticking to the prescribed wear schedule can help. If the discomfort persists or intensifies, contact us as soon as possible

    2. Damage

    Retainers can lose their shape over time, affecting their effectiveness. They may also develop cracks or break, especially those made of plastic.

    Additionally, bonded or fixed retainers may have loose or detached wires; please don’t attempt to fix them yourself. Promptly request a replacement. In the meantime, if it is a removable retainer, you may need to revert to wearing a previous retainer (if available) as a temporary solution.

    3. Difficulty Wearing, Tightness, or Poor Fit

    If your retainer doesn’t fit properly, feels tighter than usual, or is difficult to put on, don't force it or attempt to adjust it. Schedule an appointment for an assessment. It may be a sign of changes in tooth alignment that need attention.

    4. Buildup of Plaque or Debris

    Retainers can accumulate plaque or debris, leading to hygiene concerns. To prevent this, regularly clean your retainer to prevent bacterial growth.

    Things to Remember While Wearing Removable Retainers

  • Don’t eat or drink while wearing your retainers
  • Clean your retainers properly
  • Wear your retainers as directed
  • Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Chew Today

    Dr. Chew is here to tailor the most effective post-brace care plan. Our expert team at Chew Dental Group will guide you through the nuances of retainer wear, addressing any concerns or questions.

    Remember, maintaining your radiant smile requires commitment, and Chew Dental Group is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to book your consultation and secure the lasting success of your orthodontic journey!


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