You've worked hard for your beautiful smile; keep it that way!
Finally, your braces have been removed and your smile is beautiful, straight, and best of all, braces-free ! However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed. To keep your smile looking its best, you'll have to wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize your results. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after braces treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth. Remember, your teeth were in the wrong positions before orthodontic treatment and the gum fibers that connect the teeth to the jaws remember those positions and try to pull the teeth back to their original positions. This tendency to "relapse" lasts at least a year and a half !
Types of Retainers
Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.
- Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch that sits in the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to deal with minor movement of the front teeth as needed.
- Aligner-style retainers, or clear plastic retainers, look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This clear retainer may fit over the entire arch of your teeth, or only from canine to canine (clip-on retainer). It is produced from a mold of your newly aligned teeth. It is important to note that while these clear plastic retainers are less bulky and less expensive to make than traditional retainers, they are easier to break and easier to lose !
- Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top front teeth. These bonded retainers should remain in place for at least a year and a half, and usually last five years or more before the bonding and the wires start to get stressed by continual biting pressures and frequent temperature changes in the mouth. Dr. Boutin does not like to stop retainers of remove the retainers if there are wisdom teeth in the jaws that may try to grow in and distort the corrected positions of the teeth. Retainers should be continued on at least a part time basis for six months after wisdom teeth are removed.
Pros and Cons
- Removable retainers can be taken out for eating and hygiene routines.
- Removable retainers can get lost easily, so remember to keep yours in the case whenever you remove it to eat or brush.
- A fixed retainer is great if you don't want to have to remember to keep track of it, or if you don't want to worry about how many hours per day it must be worn.
- Teeth with fixed retainers require a little extra attention to remove tartar while flossing and when you see your dentist or dental hygienist for cleaning appointments. Patients with fixed retainers often must use floss threaders to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the retainer and the teeth.