LIFE AFTER BRACES

Congratulations! You’re done with braces and now you’re ready to show off your new MBO smile. No more aligners, bands, brackets, or avoiding sticky, hard candies and snacks. You’re done with orthodontic treatment forever!

Not so fast! While getting your braces off is definitely a cause for celebration, it is also the start of the next, very important, phase of your orthodontic treatment: RETENTION.

Retention involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. We offer several types of retainers, all of which are custom-made just for you. Drs. Meier & Benitez will help you choose the type (or types) that is best for maintaining your new smile.

SHIFT HAPPENS… KEEP YOUR BITE… JUST RIGHT!

But if your teeth are straight now, why do you have to wear a retainer? It’s because if you don’t wear one, your teeth will start moving right back to where they were before you had braces.

Teeth aren’t cemented into your jawbone – if they were, we wouldn’t be able to move them! Your teeth are held in place by a network of fibers called periodontal ligaments. After orthodontic treatment moves your teeth, it takes a while for these fibers to settle into their new position.

Even after everything settles into place, your teeth will still be susceptible to movement as you age. So, if you want to keep that new smile — and not waste all the time, effort, and money it took to get it — it’s essential to wear your retainer as directed by Drs. Meier & Benitez: FOR LIFE!

TYPES OF RETAINERS

Hawley: A thin, tongue-shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position.

Pink Hawley Retainers

Pros:

  • Durable; can last for years
  • Adjustable allowing for correction of minor tooth movements
  • Personalize it with many design and color options
  • Resistant to staining
  • Easily removed for eating and oral hygiene
  • Teeth will touch naturally when wearing this retainer

Cons:

  • The metal wire is visible in front of the teeth
  • Can be lost or damaged and is more expensive to replace
  • Coverage of the palate can be feel awkward at first
  • Does not protect against grinding
  • Cannot be used to bleach teeth

Essix or Vivera: Custom-fitting thin, transparent plastic retainers designed to fit snugly over your teeth.

Essix Retainer

Pros:

  • Clear plastic makes the retainer nearly invisible when worn
  • Precisely fitted to teeth to ensure they do not move
  • Vivera retainers can be reordered from original scan and can self-correct movements of up to .25mm per tooth
  • Can be used with bleaching products to whiten teeth
  • Offers some protection against grinding

Cons:

  • Less durable than Hawley retainer; requires replacement every 1-2 years
  • You may also need to replace the retainers if major dental work is done
  • Will warp if exposed to heat or incorrectly removed
  • It is susceptible to staining/discoloration
  • Can be lost or damaged easily

Fixed or Bonded: A small metal wire that is cemented to the tongue side of your front teeth. Commonly used on bottom front teeth, this retainer is bonded with the same cement used for brackets.

Fixed Retainer

Pros:

  • Not visible to others
  • No need to worry about when to wear it or take it out
  • Can’t be lost

Cons:

  • Cannot be removed which can make flossing difficult
  • Tartar and plaque can build up around the wire, possibly leading to gum disease
  • The wire can be irritating to the tongue in the beginning
  • Does not protect all teeth or the newly gained width of the arch
  • Does not protect against grinding
  • Cannot be used to bleach teeth
  • Can break with normal wear and tear of eating

Caring for your Retainer

  1. Wear your retainer EXACTLY as your orthodontist says. It is incredibly important to keep up with your retainer schedule, whether it is wearing it day and night, only night, or a few nights per week. Without a retainer, your teeth will always move and shift. If you don’t follow your retainer schedule, you risk needing braces a second time!
  1. Keep it so fresh & so clean. Always clean your retainer when you take it out, prior to putting it in your case. You can use a regular toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste to gently brush your retainer. You can also soak it in a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes. Never expose your retainer to hot water or air. Heat can cause the retainer to warp and no longer fit your teeth.
  1. In your mouth or in your case! When not in use (aka in your mouth!), keep your retainer in its case. Most retainers end up lost in the lunchroom or a restaurant because they were left in a napkin. They’re also a favorite chew toy for our four-legged friends, so keep them away from your dog. Don’t forget to wash your case with hydrogen peroxide and water mixture as well.

So, what’s next?

Now that you have your retainers and you know how to care for them, we’ll send you on your way… for a few months! We’ll have you come back for retainer checkups every 6 months for two years following the end of your treatment. This allows us to ensure that your retainers are still fitting properly, and your teeth are staying put. For this reason, ALWAYS bring your retainer to checkups.

If your retainer breaks or you notice it is not fitting properly, please call us immediately.

For more information on retainers, click here