Many patients who are currently in treatment, or those considering treatment wonder if they will need to wear a retainer after treatment is over. The answer is yes. Getting your teeth straight is only half the process. Keeping them straight, with the aid of a retainer, is a lifelong task because teeth can shift and adjust throughout your life. To keep the changes made by orthodontic care, a retainer will help keep your teeth in their desired location, even with the minor movements your teeth will make over time.
Your orthodontist will generally prescribe a retainer to give the bone which holds your teeth in place a chance to rebuild after your teeth are adjusted into the proper location and to keep them there once treatment is over. The retainer will help avoid your teeth shifting back out of alignment. Everything changes in life, so do your teeth but a retainer helps minimize the change, for your teeth at least.
Your orthodontist will decide which retainer will work best for your specific needs. You may either be fitted for a removable or fixed retainer. The removable retainer is what most people think of when you think of a retainer. It is one that can be removed by the patient while the fixed retainer can only be removed by your orthodontist. Either one will work to keep your teeth in place and gives your bone time to heal and form around the teeth in their new position once your “active” treatment is over.
The most common type of removable retainers are usually made of wire and have a plastic-like material which covers the roof of your mouth for your upper teeth or for your lower bite, it will go behind the lower front teeth. The wire section will go over your teeth to keep them in place. Another retainer option is clear retainers. These are transparent plastic-like trays that look exactly like your teeth.
Whichever retainer your orthodontist prescribes you, they will instruct you on how to properly care for it. For a removable retainer, they will also show you how to place and remove it correctly. If you have a fixed retainer, you will not be able to remove it since the thin wire will be custom-fit and bonded on the tongue-side of your upper and/or lower teeth.
A retainer is something that you will be including in your oral hygiene regimen for the rest of your life. After flossing and brushing at night, for those wearing removable retainers, simply place it on at night to help keep your teeth in their proper place and avoid moving out of alignment.
Your orthodontist will discuss all your options before you start treatment and along the course. At any time if you have questions or concerns, give us a call at 281-225-6784.