The grand reveal after months (or years) of wearing braces is a momentous occasion. Finally, you have the straight, healthy smile you’ve dreamed of.
But that’s not the end of your orthodontic story. Another piece of dental hardware is in your future. The retainer is a necessary part of your treatment, but it can be a drag hearing you need to worry about yet another piece of metal in your mouth.
That’s where we come in.
Here, our team of dentists at Rifkin Dental takes some of the guesswork out of the final stages of orthodontics. By learning how important retainers are, you'll better understand the factors that determine how long you’ll need to wear them.
A dynamic duo
Braces do all of the hard work straightening out wayward teeth, closing gaps, and realigning your bite. But where would they be without retainers?
It’s all in the name. Retainers help you retain the smile your braces worked so hard to create. We custom-make your retainer to fit your mouth exactly and keep your teeth in the perfect position after your braces come off. Retainers allow your new smile to settle into the soft tissue and jawbone without letting them shift.
Without a retainer, you risk undoing the work your braces did and potentially wasting the time and money you invested in your smile. Needless to say, retainers are an essential part of straightening and aligning your teeth.
How long you need to wear your retainer depends heavily on which type of retainer you need. There are two main options: removable and fixed. Here’s a closer look at both.
You typically wear a removable retainer full time for four months to a year after braces. It only comes out when you need to eat or brush your teeth. After your prescribed period of time, we reevaluate to see if you need to wear it for longer.
Even if we don’t notice tooth movement, we may recommend that you hang onto your retainer and wear it at night to be safe. Depending on your teeth, this could be for a few months, a few years, or indefinitely.
Fixed retainers are great because you don’t have to worry about keeping track of them or remembering to put them back in after eating or brushing. We bond fixed retainers to your teeth in a convenient, unobtrusive place (usually behind your teeth). You may need to wear this retainer for longer than a removable one, potentially years.
There is a chance that you could develop oral health problems with fixed retainers, but you can easily avoid them with a diligent oral hygiene routine.
We’d also like to note that it’s possible that you may benefit from having both types of retainers. Usually, we place one type on your upper teeth and the other on your bottom teeth.
Taking care of your retainers
The last thing you want after getting your braces off is another laundry list of care instructions. However, caring for your retainer helps it do its job, which means you don’t have to wear it any longer than necessary. Here are some simple but necessary things you should do to keep your retainer in tip-top shape.
For removable retainers
Removable retainers should be in their case when not in your mouth, and you should take your case with you wherever you go. Make sure to keep your retainers away from heat and pets, and don’t forget to clean them every day. It’s also important to only drink water with your retainers in — sugary drinks can get caught between the retainer and your teeth and lead to decay.
For fixed retainers
Care for fixed retainers is a bit simpler. All you need to do is brush and floss regularly. An interproximal toothbrush can come in handy and help you completely remove plaque and tartar.
Need more information about your retainers? We’d love to talk with you. Call or click to schedule an appointment at either our Carmel or Yorktown Heights, New York, offices today.