Wondering ‘Why Do I Need Retainers After Braces?’
Braces are used to correct a number of conditions including a bad bite, crowded teeth, protruding teeth, jaws that don’t line up correctly or any other misalignment in your mouth. For most, the day their braces come off is a day they’ve been looking forward to for some time. While this moment would certainly give anyone a reason to smile, wearing a retainer is the key to keeping this perfect smile for the rest of your life.
A retainer is a custom-made apparatus that is designed to keep teeth in place after braces are finally taken off. Wearing a retainer at night and between meals will allow your teeth to hold their new form as they will naturally try to shift over time. Your newly aligned teeth need time to settle into the soft tissue of the jawbone.
Types Of Retainers
Fixed retainers feature a thin wire that runs along the back of your upper and lower front teeth. The wire will be bonded in place using a specially designed dental cement.
When wearing fixed retainers, you need to be careful when it comes to flossing and cleaning your teeth. This is because the wire runs along multiple teeth—the gaps between your teeth are effectively eradicated. If you’ve just had braces, this should not be too much of a problem though. You just need to clean and floss in the same way as you did when wearing braces.
While this kind of retainer requires more effort in terms of cleaning and maintenance, the results can sometimes be better than a removable retainer—you won’t be tempted to take it out. Instead, your newly straightened teeth will be held in place twenty-four hours a day.
There are different types of removable retainers. Some are completely clear and encompasses all your upper and/or lower teeth. Another type of removable retainer is comprised of both wires that run along the front surface of your upper and lower front teeth, plus acrylic material and very small hooks. These little hooks loop around the back of your teeth to ensure that your retainer is safely held in place.
Because they are removable, this particular type of retainer makes it much easier to clean your teeth. But, just because it’s removable, doesn’t mean it should be taken out too often. At dhealth Dentistry we typically recommend you wear your removable retainer whenever you’re awake, as well as when you’re asleep, for a minimum of three months. If your teeth don’t shift during this time it is likely that you’ll only have to wear the retainer at night and possibly for a few hours during the day.
One thing to be aware of if you choose a removable retainer is that they can be easily lost, damaged or change their shape if they’re exposed to heat.
What Happens After Braces
After your braces are removed, we will fit you with a retainer appropriate for your teeth. As stated above, this will be either a fixed or removable retainer, sometimes a combination of both.
No matter the type of retainer you use, periodic maintenance is required to keep your teeth looking their best. This will occur through regular appointments to clean your newly straightened teeth and check for any other dental problems, such as cavities.
If you have a fixed retainer, Dr Anna or a member of our experienced team will also examine the areas close to the retainer. This examination will ensure that it is properly secured and your teeth are free from tartar and plaque.
Will I Have To Wear A Retainer Forever?
Your teeth are housed by your jaw bone. When you have braces, you have a forceful system on your teeth that gradually pushes your teeth into a new position. In order for your teeth to move, the bone on one side of a tooth needs to disappear or soften. Then, once your tooth has moved into its new position, new bone will move into the area surrounding the tooth. This will help to stabilise it. This usually takes between nine and twelve months. This is why you will need to wear a retainer daily for twelve months after braces.
We typically recommend that you continue to wear your retainer overnight, as much as possible, for as long as possible. The reason this is recommended is because, as we age, our teeth typically shift forward very slowly. While this usually takes decades to occur, this shift can be prevented through continued and consisted wear of retainers.
If you currently have braces or are about to have your braces removed it is likely that you’ve invested a lot of money into orthodontic care. To maintain your perfectly straight teeth and the results achieved by wearing braces, a retainer is necessary. It’s a small price to pay for an amazing smile that will last a lifetime!