You've worked hard for your beautiful smile; keep it that way!
Whether you had metal braces, clear braces, or Invisalign aligners, you will need to wear retainers to keep your smile looking its best. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after orthodontic treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth. And they are used for years to come to prevent the changes that occur in teeth naturally with aging.
Some patients are shocked by these recommendations. We just want you to realize that without consistent wear of your retainers, there is a strong possibility that the beautiful, straight teeth you now possess, will not be there forever.
For the first 3-6 months after your treatment is complete, you will be asked to wear your retainers about 20-22 hours per day. The majority of patients who have done the required hours in the first 3-6 months, are then advised to wear them only while sleeping. Two years after completing your treatment, you can slowly start to wear them fewer nights per week, but never less than 1 or 2 nights per week if you want to maintain that smile!
Types of Retainers
Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.
- Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch that sits in the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue minor movement of the front teeth as needed.
- Aligner-style retainers, or Essix retainers, look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This clear retainer fits over the entire arch of your teeth. It is produced from a mold of your newly aligned teeth.
- Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top teeth. With good maintenance, a bonded retainer can be kept in place for life.
Pros and Cons
- Removable retainers can be taken out for eating and hygiene routines.
- Removable retainers can get lost easily, so remember to keep yours in the case whenever you remove it to eat or brush.
- A fixed retainer is great if you don't want to keep track of it, or if you don't want to worry about how many hours per day it must be worn.
- Teeth with fixed retainers require a little extra attention to remove tartar while flossing. Patients with fixed retainers often must use floss threaders to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the retainer and the teeth.