The Importance of Wearing a Retainer

After using braces to straighten teeth, orthodontists often recommend wearing a retainer. Retainers are helpful custom-made orthodontic devices that prevent your teeth from moving from out of position and are often used for a long period of time.

Here are a few things you need to know if your dentist recommends you wear one.

How Long Should You Wear a Retainer?

Usually, retainers are worn for as long as you wore your braces and often around a period of one year. This could also include wearing them full time for 6 months and then only at night for a few years, but this depends on your unique situation. Your orthodontist will recommend the best time to remove it.

Using braces reorganizes your teeth and tissue, so it’s necessary to use retainers to stabilize the bite of your mouth. Not using a retainer could lead to relapse which means that your teeth might go back to how they were before using braces. The risk of relapse is higher during the first month after not using braces so it’s important to follow the instructions from your orthodontist.

Reasons You May Need a Retainer

Retainers are most commonly used to keep teeth straight. They’re often the last stage of tooth-straightening treatments such as tooth extractions and using braces. Wearing a retainer at night prevents your teeth from moving.

Retainers can also play roles in preventing or curbing speech defects. When you have crooked teeth, it’s often difficult to make sounds like “ta” and “la” because they require placing your tongue behind the top row of teeth. Retainers keep teeth straight so you don’t have this problem.

If you have frequent headaches and jaw pain, then your Austin orthodontist may prescribe a retainer to treat temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a condition that occurs when your top and bottom teeth don’t align properly. A retainer could even prevent you from grinding your teeth during sleep, which often causes headaches that can last long into the next day.

Types of Retainers Your Orthodontist May Prescribe

Orthodontists typically use three types of retainers: Hawley, Essix, and Permanent.

Hawley retainers, one of the most popular types, are made of metal and acrylic. If you look into a mirror while wearing the retainer, you can usually see a piece of metal running along the front of your teeth.

Essix retainers are made of clear plastic. Many people prefer Essix retainers because they feel self-conscious about the visibility of Hawley retainers. The Essix retainers fit right over your teeth, which some people find more comfortable than Hawley retainers that also touch the roof of the mouth.

Permanent retainers, as the name suggests, stay in your mouth at all times. If you choose this option, then your orthodontist will glue a piece of metal behind your teeth. Permanent retainers work well for many people, but they can make it difficult to floss. Some people also find them uncomfortable, especially when their tongues rub against the metal.

How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Since your retainer is custom-made to fit your mouth and teeth, you should take good care of it. There are several things you can do to keep your retainer in good condition. Some of the most important steps include:

  • Cleaning the retainer with a soft brush after meals or at least once per day
  • Don’t brush your teeth while wearing the retainer
  • Store your retainer in its container so it doesn’t get damaged
  • Soak the retainer when you aren’t wearing it to prevent drying and cracking
  • Keep it away from excessive heat

A Healthy, Straight Smile is Easy

If you’re looking to straighten your teeth it’s essential to go with an experienced orthodontist who will ensure that you get the right treatment. From braces to Invisalign and other offerings, Pure Smiles Orthodontics offers the treatment you need to have a healthy smile. Contact Pure Smiles Orthodontics today!