Congratulations are always in order post-orthodontic treatment! The time has come when a patient has finished their braces or Invisalign treatment, and they finally have the smile they’ve always wanted! So what happens next? Retainers!
Essentially, the common understanding of the retainer is an appliance placed in the mouth to prevent teeth from shifting back into an old pattern after they have been straightened out with braces. Retainers will hold the teeth in the position where our orthodontist placed them during treatment allowing them to resist the natural pull to move back to their former placement. The
average duration for the new position of a patient’s teeth can take at least 4-6 months to become permanent. The retainer is an appliance to be worn that will prevent a potential tooth position relapse. That is why it is so important to follow all instructions given by the orthodontist.
When it comes to retainers for post-orthodontic treatment, there are two basic types to ensure retention: removable or fixed. After careful evaluation, one of our orthodontists who has been monitoring the treatment process, will determine and explain the best retention option based on each patient’s goals. The pretreatment tooth placement, corrections provided and relapse concerns will be considered prior to moving forward. It is most common for our orthodontists to recommend a upper and lower removable retainers to be worn at bedtime paired with bonded fixed retainers on the upper and lower front teeth. It all depends on the outcome as a custom designed strategy will be put in place for the best long-term results. Retainers have one mission: to keep tooth position relapse from occurring so that all of the hard work, time and cost spent on orthodontic treatment was not wasted.
The removable factor of the retainer is by far the biggest concern for the lifestyle of the patient. These removable appliances are typically only worn at night while sleeping. They do not interfere with patient’s daily life or routine. This also makes teeth and gums very accessible to maintain proper oral care and hygiene to prevent dental damage and/or other issues. Removable retainers are easy and convenient to obtain and manage. Removable retainers should be removed and cleaned with gentle brushing daily. One of our orthodontists may also recommend soaking it with a special solution.
The only con to a removable retainer is that there is a risk of relapse if patients do not follow the specific wear instructions given by the orthodontist. ‘Removable’ means that the retainers may be easily lost, damaged, not cleaned properly, or not worn as prescribed. When a patient does not abide by the guidelines set out by our experts, and does not wear the retainer, it simply cannot work and function as it is supposed to, and a patient’s teeth can ultimately shift back to their original position.
Removable retainers are custom made our lab technicians from a clear plastic sheet which sits on the roof of the mouth and a metal bow that sits across the teeth to prevent tooth movement. The fit must be tight and secure in order to hold the patient’s teeth into position. For many patients, whether removable or not, retainers can be a life-long commitment. Some patients will require a replacement set, especially if they do not follow instructions or proper care. Patients have to be responsible and remember to wear retainers as our orthodontists have instructed.
- Durable plastic, with adjustable bow to provide consistent comfortable fit
- Easy and comfortable to wear
- Protect the teeth from shifting.
- Easy to clean since the patient can remove retainers to brush and floss.
- Helps to protect dental restorations (fillings, crowns, etc.) if patient grinds or clenches teeth
- If a patient loses retainers, new impressions can be taken to get a replacement set. If you lose your retainers, please call our office as soon as possible to have a new set of retainers made to keep any shifting from occurring.
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