Congratulations! The time has come when you have finished your braces or clear aligner treatment, and you finally have the smile you have always wanted!
So what happens next…? Retainers!
Retainers play a vital role in your orthodontic treatment. They hold the teeth in the position where we placed them during treatment. Teeth have a natural tendency to move after treatment, particularly in the direction of their original position. This is called a relapse. Retainers function is to keep a relapse from occurring, so that your hard work, time, and money spent on orthodontics wasn’t wasted.
Many of us know someone whose teeth have shifted as a result of not wearing their retainers. Most patients who don’t follow through with retainer wear end up back in braces or clear aligners to correct the relapse that has taken place.
When talking about retainers, our patients tend to have a few questions. Some of the frequently asked questions are as follows:
- What will my retainer look like?
- Will I have that metal bar behind my teeth like my friend has?
- Can’t you just put in a permanent retainer?
- Do I have to wear my retainer all the time?
At Saxe Orthodontics, our preferred choice of retainer is the essix clear removable retainer. However, there are certain instances that arise where we may use a bonded retainer or hawley removable retainers. We have outlined the pros and cons of each type of retainer, so you will have the information needed regarding these three types of retainers. Then as the patient, you can make the best decision to ensure you can keep that beautiful smile you worked so hard for.
Removable retainers are created using your digital smile file – which we get from a quick scan using our iTero intraoral scanner. These retainers have an exact fit and hold all of your teeth in position. You will be instructed to wear these all day and night for the first two weeks after treatment completion or until Dr. Saxe or Dr. Drowley prescribes otherwise. Retainers are a lifelong commitment.
If you’re wondering “how long do retainers last”, you may be surprised that many of our patients, with proper care, can get up to 10 years of wear with a set of retainers before needing to replace them!
- Clear, almost invisible, and easy to wear.
- Fit your teeth “like a glove” and protect the teeth from shifting.
- Easy to clean since you can remove retainers to brush and floss.
- Can help protect dental restorations (fillings, crowns, and implants) if you grind or clench your teeth.
- Can be used as a bleaching tray. (You can purchase safe and effective bleaching gel from your general dentist to use inside your retainers for easy teeth whitening after treatment!)
- Give you the ability to wear full-time to move teeth back into finished position if you went a couple of days without retainers and teeth shifted slightly.
- You have to be responsible and remember to wear retainers as instructed.
- If you lose your retainers, there will be a cost to have replacement retainers made. If this happens, please call our office as soon as possible to have a new set of retainers made to keep any shifting from occurring.
Fixed or Permanent Retainers
On occasion, we have our patients ask about “permanent retainers.” They may have had one before, or either know someone who has one currently. In some cases, this may be the prescribed treatment for you. A fixed retainer consists of a wire that is bonded behind your lower front six teeth to help hold teeth in place. This area is where relapse is most likely to occur.
Fixed retainers can also be helpful if you have had a large space between your upper front two teeth. Once your braces or clear aligner treatment is over and the space has closed, we may use a bonded retainer to help keep the space closed. Care must be taken when placing the wire to ensure that you do not bite on the wire or the adhesive pads. Placing a bonded retainer, whether it’s on the upper teeth or the lower teeth, is a simple procedure.
- Help prevent shifting of the front teeth, where relapse is likely to occur. Because bonded retainers only protect the front teeth, you may be required to have a pair of removable retainers to wear as well. Dr. Saxe and Dr. Drowley believe in protecting all of the teeth – not just the teeth everyone sees when you smile!
- Nothing is permanent. Simply having a bonded retainer alone provides you with a false sense of protection. A bonded retainer can come loose or break! Most people don’t realize it is loose or broken until a tooth has shifted. Once movement has occurred, you may require further orthodontic treatment. If you have a bonded retainer and notice that it has come loose or breaks, please call our office as soon as possible to have it fixed before any movement takes place.
- You must be careful about what you eat. Hard, crunchy, sticky or gummy foods may cause your retainer to break.
- You must be diligent in keeping your retainer clean! Flossing regularly with a floss threader to prevent tartar buildup.
- Bonded retainers don’t provide any protection from relapse for the back teeth.
Still have questions about permanent or removable retainers?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We’re here to guide you through orthodontic treatment and ensure that you achieve beautiful, lifelong results. If you’re looking for advice – or just want to chat about your child’s treatment – we’re here for you.
Ready to get started? Request your complimentary orthodontic exam with our experienced orthodontists in Summerlin, Las Vegas today!