Most patients are excited to have their braces finally removed. While the removal of braces is the end of an effective and important phase of the teeth straightening process, it is the beginning of another phase that is just as important. After teeth have been straightened through braces, retention plays an important role to help hold the teeth in place. Once your braces have been removed, orthodontic retainers are necessary to ensure longevity and stability of the results.
Types of Retainers
A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance that helps teeth maintain their new position after braces have been removed. Retainers do exactly what they are named for; they retain the results obtained by orthodontic treatment. There are several types of retainers, and they can be either fixed or removable.
Types of retainers include:
- Traditional removable wire retainers
- Clear or transparent retainers
- Fixed retainers
Clear retainers, or aligners, offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. Fixed retainers consist of wires that are bonded to the back of the bottom and/or top teeth.
Retainers should be removed before brushing your teeth. In addition, retainers should be cleaned and cared for on a regular basis. Once removed, they can be brushed with a soft toothbrush. If retainers get very dirty, they can be soaked in white vinegar for a few minutes and then rinsed and brushed as usual. Patients with fixed retainers can brush as usual. Since permanent retainers may lead to tartar build-up, floss threaders may be used to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the retainer and the teeth.
In most cases, retainers should be worn nightly to maintain the alignment of the teeth. If patients do not follow directions and wear the retainers exactly as recommended, unwanted tooth movement will likely occur.