All orthodontic treatment eventually comes to an end, and when you have a set of nice, straight teeth, you will definitely need to wear a retainer. As an experienced orthodontist in Hammond, our staff at Maldonado Orthodontics have decades of experience in retainer wear and placement. We put together this guide to answer any questions you have about wearing retainers.
What Are Retainers, and When do You Need One?
Braces or clear aligners are only the first stages of treating crooked teeth. If you want to keep your smile in line for the rest of your life, you shouldn’t neglect the next phase of treatment. Your orthodontist will prescribe retainers after the orthodontic treatment finishes. This prevents your newly straightened teeth from relapsing into a crooked alignment.
While the materials and configuration options of retainers vary, orthodontists custom-craft every retainer based on scans and impressions of your mouth. You will have to wear your retainer for a certain number of hours per day, but wearing retainers overnight is enough for most patients.
What Types of Retainers Can You Get?
There are two main types of retainers: fixed and removable.
A fixed retainer is commonly placed on the lower front six teeth. It is a thin, strong wire bonded behind your teeth. Sometimes, it’s the only retainer you need for your lower arch. Occasionally, a fixed retainer can also be used on the upper front teeth, especially if there was a large gap before treatment. This still requires maintenance, though: when brushing be extra careful to clean the wire and the inside of your teeth. You will need to use a floss threader between the retainer wire and the gums.
A removable retainer is a convenient option for many patients. Hawley removable retainers are made from stainless steel and acrylic, and they wrap around your teeth to keep them in place. The main benefit of these removable retainers is that your orthodontist can adjust them to make small changes to the alignment of your teeth. Essix removable retainers are the more modern option. This clear plastic retainer is similar to the clear aligners you may have used to straighten your smile.
How Do You Take Care of a Removable Retainer?
A removable retainer is an investment in your oral health, so you should keep it clean. Regardless of what type of retainer you have, brush it with a toothbrush daily to dislodge any bacteria or food particles that find their way into it. Rinse your retainer with cool water whenever you take it out of your mouth, and store it in its case when you aren’t wearing it.
If you have a Hawley retainer, you may also want to consider soaking it in denture cleaner one or two times a week, as these appliances are more challenging to clean than Essix retainers. Be especially careful to avoid soaking an Essix retainer in hot water, as this can stretch the plastic out of shape.
Should You Ever Stop Wearing Your Retainer?
If you want to see the best results from your orthodontic treatment, you should wear a retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions for the rest of your life, but this doesn’t mean a huge investment of time. With practice, taking care of your retainer will become just another part of your daily life.
Maldonado Orthodontics: Southern Louisiana’s Dedicated Orthodontist
Whether you need a replacement for a missing retainer, want a lifetime of straighter teeth, or want to learn the differences between Invisalign vs. 3M Clarity aligners, our orthodontic experts at Maldonado Orthodontics have you covered! We have offices in Metairie, Lutcher, and Hammond, and we see patients of all ages.
Our board-certified orthodontists have been bringing the most advanced orthodontic technology to southern Louisiana since 1988, and we’re here to answer any questions you have about wearing retainers. Call us at 985-542-8719 for your free consultation today!