What’s a Retainer?
A retainer is a piece of plastic and metal that is custom-made for each individual. It fits the top of the teeth and mouth. No two retainers are alike, even though many look similar.
Retainers are really common. In fact, most people (kids and adults) who have braces have to wear a retainer for at least a little while after getting their braces taken off. Other people wear them to close gaps in their teeth, to help with speech problems, or to solve certain medical problems.
Retainers may also be formed from clear, flexible plastic made from a custom impression of your teeth. Clear retainers fit over your teeth, much like an [Invisalign] aligner. Clear retainers also come with a special case and need to be maintained and cleaned carefully. While clear retainers may not be as noticeable as a Hawley retainer, they are more susceptible to wear and tear, and may need to be replaced more often. In addition, it may be easier to lose a clear retainer.
What does a retainer do?
A retainer holds or retains your teeth in their final position after your braces come off. There are several types of retainers, but in most cases retainers can’t move teeth that much. Initially, when active treatment is complete, we ask that you use your retainer day and night. Your doctor will let you know when you can start using it during the night time only.
Why is it important that I wear a retainer?
Retention is just as important as the braces that straighten your teeth, and with the successful completion of brace treatment it is crucial to protect the teeth by wearing a retainer advised by a dentist. Failing to follow this necessary step can lead to your teeth becoming crooked and makes it more likely for your teeth to move back into their original position, resulting in a further course of orthodontic treatment in order to straighten them again.
It is fundamental to avoid sugary drinks and snacks between meals and to brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. Retainer wear is your responsibility, so if any damage occurs to the structure of the teeth retainer or you simply misplace it, it is vital to contact your dentist as soon as possible.
How do I take care of my retainer?
- Wear your retainer as directed by the doctor. Then you’re less likely to lose it or break it.
- If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you keep it in a safe case so that it does not get lost or broken. We tell all our patients: “Your face is the safest case!”
- Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your doctor. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher, because It will melt.
- Keep your retainer away from family pets. It’s an expensive chew-toy!
- The above rules also apply to patients who get Invisalign treatment.