What is a Retainer?
A retainer is a custom-made, removable or fixed appliance that helps teeth maintain their new position after braces have been removed.
What is a Retainer Used For?
A retainer is typically a removable device. Once you’ve had your braces removed, you will wear a retainer to gently hold your teeth in their position. It is essential to wear a retainer consistently since teeth will naturally attempt to shift back over time.
Unlike braces, a retainer does not always need to be worn constantly. Most patients will see the results they desire by wearing their retainer at night and between meals.
How Long Do You Wear a Retainer?
Majority of patients will wear a retainer for at least one full year.
In general, the more severe orthodontic correction, the longer you will need to wear a retainer. To determine exactly how long the retainer must be used, it is important to schedule follow up visits with your orthodontic specialist.
After a certain period of time, most patients switch to the use of a removable retainer. They will be advised to go on using the retainer indefinitely during the night. This is crucial for long-lasting results, since teeth shift naturally throughout a person’s entire life.
In general, a patient who discontinues the use of a retainer will not notice a change right away. Over the course of a few years, however, teeth will be much more likely to move closer to their original position. In some cases, this can damage or loosen them.
What Are the Different Types of Retainers?
There are three main types of retainers your orthodontist will choose from:
Bonded retainers are put into place for a very long period of time. While it is not uncommon to wear them for years, some patients may require them for decades. Most of them are cemented to the back of teeth, which minimizes the change in aesthetic appearance from using them.
Removable retainers serve as a transitional step for many people who finish with their bonded retainers. The removable retainer is designed to adhere to the shape of your mouth.
This type of retainer is made from clear plastic, which makes them the most discreet of the available options.
If orthodontic concerns are very minor, an active retainer may be used instead of braces. The active retainer is not designed to exactly adhere to the shape of your teeth. Instead, its structure allows your teeth to incrementally move to a more favorable position.
How Do You Care for a Retainer?
Once you begin wearing a retainer, maintain your daily regimen of brushing and flossing. See your dentist on a regular basis to check for cavities and ensure the area around the retainer stays clean.