The day you remove your braces is a huge milestone! You can finally eat all those foods that you’ve been wary of during treatment. However, we want to remind you that although your braces are removed, that doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment has come to an end. Sometimes even after braces teeth don’t want to stay straight, so there is a second stage of treatment called retention.
What are retainers?
Even as we age our teeth tend to shift regardless of whether or not we’ve had treatment. After braces, it isn’t uncommon for teeth to want to return to their original position once your braces are removed. This makes retainers the key to maintaining all the hard work you’ve already accomplished so far.
For a minimum of two years, your teeth will want to revert back to their original position. Retainers are designed to keep your teeth in place and prevent shifting.
A retainer is a custom-made plastic/acrylic or metal appliance that keeps teeth aligned after orthodontic treatment. A mold of your mouth is made once your braces are removed and the retainer is used to keep your teeth in place. Retainers typically fit the top of the teeth and mouth.
There are two main types of retainers:
- Hawley retainers are most likely the ones that come to mind when you hear the word retainer. It is an acrylic/plastic piece with a wire that fits around the outside of the teeth to keep them in line.
- Essix retainers are similar in design and appearance to Invisalign aligners. They are meant to fit over all your teeth and are completely clear.
How long do I have to wear my retainer?
Several factors determine the length of your treatment, and each treatment plan will vary based on the patient’s needs. However, it isn’t a 24/7 commitment that you will have to uphold for the rest of your life. Once your braces are removed, your orthodontist will fit you for a retainer and tell you how long you should wear it and when. You may have to wear it 24/7 for several months, but eventually, you may only need to wear it at night or every few days. Always consult with your orthodontist and follow their advice so your teeth don’t shift back.
If you don’t wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth will likely shift back to their original position and require braces once again depending on how far they have shifted. As mentioned above, the first two years are crucial to keeping the smile for which you’ve worked so hard. Your retainer works to stabilize your bite and help your teeth, gums, and bones adapt to their new position. By wearing your retainer every day and night, you consistently prevent shifting.
If your retainer no longer fits due to shifting, please contact us immediately so we can fit you for a new one. Do not try to fit it over your teeth as you may damage your teeth and mouth.
If you have any questions about the process or your retainer, contact Meier & Benitez Orthodontics today. You have put in so much work and time to get your perfect smile, and we want to help you protect it!