Retainers and Retention
Whether you choose traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, or Invisalign®, you will require retainers and retention when your orthodontic treatment is complete. Retention is an extremely important aspect of treatment, and is crucial if you want to preserve your investment. At Smile Orthodontics, our doctors recommend lifetime retainer wear; and we offer several types of retainers for this purpose. It is important to closely follow the guidelines given by your doctor so you can enjoy your beautiful new smile for years to come.
Following Your Orthodontic Treatment
Once your braces come off, you will need to wear your retainer for a minimum of 22 hours per day for at least one year. If the retainers are not worn, the teeth can shift back into their original positions. After the first year, you should be able to wear your retainers at nighttime only, then gradually decrease time until you wear them once or twice per week. Your doctor will provide detailed instructions for your situation.
Types of Retainers and Retention
The type of retainer necessary will depend on your specific situation. There are three primary types of orthodontic retainers:
- Hawley: Fabricated out of bendable wire and acrylic, the Hawley retainer can be adjusted as necessary. The acrylic portion is seated in the roof of the mouth, and the wire goes across the teeth to hold them in place.
- Essix: This type of retainer is similar to an Invisalign tray, and is molded from clear plastic that fits over your teeth. Essix retainers typically wear out faster than Hawley retainers, and usually need to be replaced every few years.
- Permanent: In some cases, a permanent retainer can be bonded to the inside of the teeth to keep them from shifting. This type of retainer is not noticeable by others. However, it can be a bit challenging to floss in the area. Specialized tools, such as floss threaders or interproximal brushes, can be used to clean around the appliance.
There are several factors to consider when deciding which type of retainer is best. Our doctors at Smile Orthodontics can help you choose an option to fit your lifestyle.
Caring for Your Retainers
With proper care, your retainers can last a long time. Here are a few tips and tricks for keeping your retainer in great shape:
- Clean with a toothbrush: Retainers can be gently brushed with a soft toothbrush or denture brush, and rinsed with cool water. Avoid using toothpaste, as it can scratch the surface. You may find that using a denture cleaner once per month helps keep your appliance free from plaque deposits.
- Store them carefully: When you are not wearing your retainers, keep them in a protective case. Avoid leaving your retainers where pets can reach them, as they tend to chew on them.
- Avoid hot temperatures: Retainers can warp in the heat. Therefore, it is important to avoid leaving them in hot cars or pockets.
- Bring your retainers to appointments: Whenever you visit our office for a follow up, be sure to bring your retainers with you so the doctor can check them.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you would like to find out more about retainers, reach out to a team member. Contact us online anytime, or call us at one of our Suffolk, VA office locations.