Getting braces is a major commitment of both time and money. Once you have your braces removed, you’ll want to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their former position. A retainer is used to maintain the alignment of teeth after wearing braces. Retainers can also be used to treat some minor orthodontic problems.
Retainers are custom-made, removable, and fit comfortably in the mouth. They are typically constructed of plastic and wires that put gentle force on a person’s teeth to support gradual realignment. Retainers are commonly used as a form of maintenance after braces but may not need to be worn all the time.
Learn more about retainers, when to wear them, and the importance of caring for them as instructed by your orthodontist.
Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer?
While your orthodontic treatment may be complete, that doesn’t mean that your teeth will permanently remain in their new position. The bone and gum around the teeth are still susceptible to movement after the removal of braces. However, they will become stronger as you eat, speak, and perform other activities that help stimulate the bone and gum.
During this period of stabilization, it’s important to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in their proper position. Without a retainer, your teeth may gradually revert to their old positions, wasting the time and money you put into your orthodontic treatment. Wearing a retainer not only helps maintain your beautiful smile but also protects your investment.
When Should a Retainer Be Worn?
Orthodontic retainers are just as important as braces. The process of rebuilding bone and stabilizing the gums can take upwards of 12 months or more. During this first year after getting braces, it’s crucial to continue wearing your retainer.
How often a person needs to wear their retainer will depend on a variety of factors. It’s important to follow instructions provided by your Clermont family dentistry office to ensure satisfactory results.
As a general rule of thumb, a person should wear a retainer full-time for the first three months after orthodontic treatment has ended. Full-time is considered about 22 hours per day, meaning you should only take them out to eat and brush your teeth.
After the first three months, you’ll want to wear your retainer about 12 hours a day (or night) for the next nine months. Your teeth will be less likely to shift after the first year. However, you’ll still want to continue wearing your retainer.
Ideally, you should continue wearing your retainer indefinitely. As you will only need to wear it for eight hours a day after the first year, most people can simply wear them at night while they sleep. Make inserting your retainer a part of your nightly oral health care routine.
Tips for Caring for Your Retainer
- Clean your retainer regularly – Gently scrub your retainer using a toothbrush and water after each use. Do not use toothpaste as it may contain abrasive substances that scratch the plastic and make it difficult to clean.
- Soak your retainer – Soak your retainer in a retainer cleaning solution available at most drug stores in tablet form.
- Avoid exposure to heat – Do not leave your retainer in a hot environment, such as in a hot car or on a windowsill as this can cause the plastic to warp or melt. Never put your retainer in boiling water. This is not the proper way to clean it as the hot water can melt the plastic.
- Keep your retainer in a safe spot – When not in use, do not put your retainer anywhere where small children or pets can get it.
- Replace your retainer when needed – Every retainer will need to be replaced at one time or another. Your dentist in Clermont FL can help you replace your retainer upon request.
Contact Our Office
Retainers are simple devices that can help keep your teeth aligned and maintain your smile. For more information about when to wear your retainer or to speak with a dental professional, contact the friendly team at Hancock Village Dental.