Everything you need to know about dental retainers

So you’ve finally finished your course of aligners or had your dreaded braces removed and are getting to enjoy your perfectly straight pearly whites… There’s just one last step in your treatment plan: wearing a retainer. This trusty little item is going to be the thing that makes sure that your results last you a lifetime instead of a few short months. We’re also confident that once you see just how lovely your new smile is, you won’t have to think twice before using a retainer.

Why do I need a retainer after aligners or braces?

During the course of your treatment, your teeth are actively being moved by the pressure of your braces or aligners to maneuver them into the perfect position. This phase is known as the Active phase. Following this phase, the retention phase starts and this is where retainers come in. Once your braces are removed or your last aligner is used, a retainer prevents the teeth from moving back into their original position by applying subtle pressure while the bone and tissue adjust and settle your teeth into their new space.

What types of retainers are there for me to choose from?

There are two types of retainers that are most common after braces or aligners: a fixed retainer and a removable retainer.

The fixed retainer is attached permanently to the back of your teeth by your orthodontist. This is a thin piece of wire that holds teeth in place permanently. These can last anywhere from a couple of years to decades if you look after them well.

The removable retainer is very similar to an aligner in that it is a removable, clear piece of plastic and it is moulded perfectly to your new smile. These may be a little bit easier to clean, but the kicker is remembering to put them in every night!

How long will I have to wear a retainer?

This one is different for everyone and is based on your personalised treatment plan. Your orthodontist will advise you based on your requirements and this could be anywhere from 6 – 12 months or more. If you have a fixed retainer, this will be something that remains with you for significantly longer.

What’s the best way to look after my retainer?

If you have a fixed retainer, it is important to brush and floss around your retainer carefully every day. Oral hygiene is important as plaque can build up in your retainer easily if it is not managed.

For a removable retainer, cleaning is also important, as is storing it in a safe place when you’re not wearing it. Using a soft brush on your retainer each time you brush your teeth is a great habit to get into, with the occasional deep clean using a retainer cleaner. It is important to remove your retainer while you’re eating and drinking anything besides water.

If you have any more questions about retainers or would like to find out more about straightening your teeth ahead of retainers, please get in touch with us today. We’re happy to help!

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