Life After Orthodontics: Do I Really Need Retainers?
So you’re finally nearing the finish line of your orthodontic treatment. How can you make sure you can keep and maintain your brand new smile?
Our Specialist Orthodontist Dr. Argiro Kechagia talks about the six most commonly asked about dental retainers. What are they for and do you really need them?
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What are orthodontic retainers for?
The retainers are part of the last phase of orthodontic treatment and are very important since they are responsible in maintaining and holding the alignment of the teeth, and the improvement of the bite after the completion of active orthodontic treatment.
Teeth that have moved orthodontically have an inherent tendency to return to their original malocclusion positions.
The need of retention is very important to maintain the stability of the occlusion achieved by the orthodontist and the patient, and the retainers are doing exactly this.
Are there different kinds of retainers?
There are two different kind of retainers and they are both frequently used:
Fixed retainers are usually wires bonded to the back surfaces of lower anterior teeth for aesthetic and prolonged retention. These may be fabricated directly in the mouth or indirectly from an accurate stone model.
- Retainers that are made from stainless steel wire and acrylic (Hawley and Wrap-Around retainers)
- Clear vacuum formed retainers. These retainers are comfortable and aesthetic because of their invisible appearance.
How often and how long do I have to wear them?
It is recommended that all the patients have retention maintenance for at least 1 year. Most of the orthodontists use a removable retainer for the upper arch, as most of the relapse occurs in the first 6 months following braces removal, the maxillary retainer is worn fulltime for the first 6 months. After the first 6 months, the patient can go to night wear only and gradually reduce this if there is no pressure areas when seating the retainer. The lower retainer is usually a fixed retainer, which it should be left in place for a longer period even a lifetime.
Always remember that the answer to the question of long-term stability is long-term retention.
How do I know when I need new ones?
With fixed retention, if you feel that the glue has come off on one or more teeth and that your bonded retainer has become loose, go and see your orthodontist as soon as possible.
The removable retainers will need replacement when:
- you wear through the plastic
- part/s of wires or acrylic break off
- they became very loose and your orthodontist is unable to tight them up again
- they just get very dirty like anything else that you wear everyday
- the position of your teeth changes enough that your retainer does not fit properly
In general, if your retainer doesn’t look or fit like it used to, it is time for an adjustment, repair, or replacement. Don’t delay and pay your orthodontist a visit right away.
How do I effectively clean my retainers?
Fixed retention can make cleaning in between teeth more challenging. However, with good flossing procedures and regular hygienist appointments, the fixed retainers can be kept in place until adulthood or indefinitely if necessary.
With removable retainers, both types should be cleaned as follows:
- You can brush your removable retainers with a toothbrush (not the one that you are using to brush your teeth) with either liquid soap or a non-abrasive toothpaste. Just remember to rinse them well.
- Once a week, soak the retainers in denture cleaning solution. Dissolve the tablet and put the retainer in the solution for 10 minutes to 20 minutes maximum. Please only use cold water to soak your retainer.
Does my orthodontist still need to check my retainers regularly?
Regardless of the type of orthodontic retainer you have, you should always continue to arrange regularly check-ups with your orthodontist for at least 2 years post treatment.
Dr. Argiro has extensive training and experience in treating children, teens and adults using the latest techniques in orthodontics including lingual braces, invisible braces, the Damon system and mini implants. She is a certified provider of Invisalign, Eon and Incognito braces. She is also trained to manage patients with cleft lip and palate along with oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
To book a consultation with Dr. Argiro, please give us a call at 04-3949433 today.