June 2, 2018
So you’re just about to enter your last month of wearing metal braces. It’s been tough, but you’ve stayed dedicated to treatment by managing your diet, practicing diligent oral care, and visiting your dentist as needed. Pretty soon, you’ll have a beautiful smile and a healthier bite to show for your hard work and commitment.
Part of this commitment is wearing what your orthodontist in Bixby calls a retainer. What does this device do? Why is it necessary? We discuss that today.
What Happens After the Braces Come Off
Whether there are braces on your teeth or not, teeth are always on the move. Braces just help guide your teeth into a more favorable direction. However, bone and gum tissues require time to adjust to your teeth’s new position. Therefore, if nothing it stopping them from moving, they can easily shift back to their original crooked state.
Keep in mind this phenomenon is not exclusive to orthodontic aftercare. Shifting can occur when you are missing teeth as well. It’s just another reason why replacing missing teeth is so important for your bite. Teeth are simply trying to compensate for the missing space in your mouth. Luckily, by wearing a retainer as directed by your orthodontist, you can keep your smile and prevent the need for additional orthodontic care.
How a Retainer Will Keep Your Smile Straight
Wearing a retainer gives your bone and ligaments time to retighten and hold your teeth securely in place. Patients’ teeth are incredibly susceptible to shifting back in the first months after removing braces, so it’s critical to keep wearing your retainer.
Retainers come in a few different forms, but they all perform the same function. Whether your retainer is clear and removable, like clear aligners tend to be, or it’s fixed, you’ll likely wear it for at least one year. During this period, you’ll wear it throughout the day and at night, only removing to brush and eat. Once a year has passed, your dentist will determine if your bone and tissues have fully tightened. If so, he’ll tell you to start wearing your retainer exclusively at night, similar to a nightguard.
How to Care for Your Retainer
It’s not uncommon for patients to wear their retainers for life after orthodontic treatment. Their susceptibility to shifting can vary depending on genetics, tooth loss, teeth grinding habits, and age, so it’s not worth it to take any chances.
Instead, take note of these simple tips to keep your retainer in good condition:
- Removable retainers should be removed and placed in cool water, along with a fizzy denture cleanser or retainer cleaner tablet. This will sanitize the retainer while you brush.
- Fixed retainers are cleaned while you brush. Use waxed floss to remove food debris that gets caught in your retainer.
- Retainers can last for two to five years with proper care, but you’ll need to visit your orthodontist in Bixby every six months to confirm that it’s in good condition.
With daily use, your retainer will keep your smile looking beautiful for life!
About the Author
Whether it’s after traditional braces or Invisalign in Bixby, Dr. Parnam Mohanna is committed to helping patients maintain their newly straightened smiles. He’s even taught others on designing and fabricating removable oral appliances like retainers. To learn more about his practice, contact him through his website.
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