Orthodontic treatment includes the use of braces or aligners to move your teeth into proper alignment. After your braces are removed, your teeth need to settle into their new positions. Retainers help to hold your teeth in their new positions.
What Is A Retainer?
A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance that is worn after braces are removed to help preserve the results you have achieved with orthodontic treatment. Although your treatment is complete, your teeth and jaw still need time to fully stabilize in their new positions. Wearing a retainer will help keep your teeth straight and healthy while the bones and muscles in your jaw adjust to their new alignment. Depending on your situation, your dentist may recommend that you wear your retainer full-time or part-time during the day and remove it when you sleep.
Your teeth will naturally want to shift back to their original position if they are not held in place by a retainer. This can cause your teeth to become crooked again and can even undo some of the progress you made while wearing braces! For this reason, it is important to follow your orthodontist's instructions for wearing a retainer exactly as advised. Otherwise, you may wind up needing to wear braces again in the future to correct any unwanted shifting of your teeth.
When undergoing orthodontic treatment, the jaws are moved slowly into alignment using wires and brackets. Once the teeth have been moved into their final position, they are stabilized by wearing a retainer. The retainer helps prevent the teeth from moving back into their old positions.
Orthodontists typically use two types of retainers: a clear one that just covers the front teeth or a metal one that fits over the entire arch of the mouth. If the clear plastic retainer is not worn as directed, relapse may occur where the teeth move out of alignment again. This is not unusual, so patients need to be sure to wear their retainer daily as instructed by their orthodontist.
Wearing your retainer faithfully after your braces come off is pivotal to maintaining your new smile. Not wearing the retainer can cause your teeth to shift back to their original positions and undo all the hard work you completed with your braces treatment!
Patients who receive braces or other orthodontic treatment should wear their retainers as prescribed by their dentist. This should happen immediately after the last appointment. However, patients may need to wait a few days to start wearing the retainer so that their teeth have a chance to stabilize after treatment is completed.