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2 Jun

What is the purpose of retainers after braces?

purpose of retainers

What is the purpose of retainers after braces?

Wearing braces or clear aligners may create a beautiful smile, but it doesn’t retain the smile post treatment!

Once your treatment is finished, your teeth want to return to their original positions, as teeth are always adapting and moving.

Which is where retainers come in! Retainers are designed to retain your new smile and stop teeth returning to their original positions.

After having your braces removed, this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but retainers are important.

Your teeth need time to adjust into their new positions and become comfortable in the soft tissue and jawbone where they now sit.

Your retainer will be custom made from impressions taken of your newly straightened teeth and made from wire and acrylic material.

Are retainers necessary after braces?

At iSmile Orthodontics we say retainers are absolutely necessary after your treatment, as retainers play a vital role in maintaining your results.

You don’t want your teeth to return to the original positions, as it would mean the time, costs and stress of having braces would have all been wasted.

You can help to ensure your great results are maintained by wearing the retainer provided.

There are many stories of patients receiving braces treatment a second time! Why? Because they did not wear their braces as instructed by the orthodontist, resulting in their teeth shifting and returning to original positions.

Don’t take any chances, wear your retainers and maintain that straight smile!

Types of retainers

There are two variants of retainers: removable or fixed.

Removable retainers can be easily taken out for eating and cleaning your mouth and should be worn full-time for at least one year after braces are removed. However, your orthodontist will provide you a length of time, as every patient is different. Once your new smile is set in place and it’s safe not to wear your retainer full-time, you should still continue to wear it overnight, and indefinitely in many cases.

Fixed retainers are cemented to the back of your teeth and will usually be kept in for several years, if not decades.

Fixed retainers:

These retainers, also known as bonded retainers, are typically a thin stainless-steel wire that is cemented to the back of your teeth to maintain your new smile. The wire is not visible and may feel a bit odd for a little while, but we can ensure you will probably forget it’s even there after a while.

Hawley retainers:

The most common retainer, the Hawley retainer is removable. It should be removed for cleaning, eating and can be removed for special events and photos!

This retainer is made from metal wires and plastic. The metal wires fit against the six front teeth and have loops near the canines to allow for minor adjustments as your teeth settle into place!

However, due to this retainer being made from plastic it can become distorted or warp from heat or impact damage, so please handle with care.

Essix retainers:

The Essix retainer, also known as an invisible retainer, is a clear plastic device that fits over your teeth to keep them straight.

It is important to follow the advice of your orthodontist about how to wear and clean your retainer. It is not only about wearing your retainer, but also about maintaining great oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice, flossing and rinsing your mouth daily.

Permanent retainers require cleaning carefully to remove trapped bacteria, debris and plaque. While removable retainers should be removed and carefully cleaned.

iSmile recommends following your orthodontist’s advice about how to wear and clean your retainer, as it varies depending on the type of retainer.

How to clean and take care of your retainers

In general, you must handle your retainers with care and use the following techniques to clean:

Hawley / Clear Plastic Retainer:

  • Remove retainer from mouth and clean while it’s still wet, before debris hardens.
  • Use lukewarm water to rinse your retainer (after every meal if possible).
  • Mixing lukewarm water and a mild soap together on a soft toothbrush or denture brush is suggested for deeper cleaning of a retainer.
  • Make sure to rinse your retainer again and give your teeth a clean before reinserting your retainer.
  • Soaking your retainer once a week in an anti-bacterial denture solution helps keep it fresh by killing harmful bacteria.

If any debris is hardened and will not come off, make sure to bring your retainer to your orthodontist as they will be able to help. DO NOT try hard scrubbing, hot water or abrasive solutions.

When you have removed your retainer, make sure to place it inside the protective plastic case, to prevent damages or losing it.

Fixed retainer:

Brushing your teeth is not difficult, but flossing will take more effort.

To floss, you should take a 6-inch piece of floss and use a floss threader to thread the floss under your retainer wire between your lower front teeth.

Once the floss is under your retainer wire, move it up and down between the teeth, all the way to the gum line and gently below the gum line if possible.

Slide the floss sideways to make sure you remove trapped debris and plaque.

Repeat this process for each tooth attached to the retainer.

At iSmile Orthodontics, our team works to make sure all our patients feel comfortable and understand every step of their treatment process. Our number one priority is your smile and happiness.

If you have any questions, regarding your retainers or orthodontic treatment, please ask our experienced team as we are happy to provide answers. For more information or to book in for an appointment, please contact us here!

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