What Are Retainers?

Orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign aligners can transform your smile into the picture-perfect, Hollywood smile of your dreams. However, no matter how meticulously your orthodontist has treated your problem, without regular maintenance you risk reverting your perfectly aligned teeth back to their original positions. This is where orthodontic retainers come into play. 

What are Retainers?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, retainers are appliances that hold your teeth in their new position while bone tissues form around them. Retainers prevent your teeth from shifting back into their pre-orthodontic position. Therefore, you must wear your retainers as per the instructions of your dentist for the prescribed time duration. Otherwise, you risk spending more money and time in undergoing re-treatment.

What are Different Types of Retainers?

With different types of orthodontic treatment options available, dentists nowadays use various types of orthodontic retainers. The choice of retainers depends on the complexity of the orthodontic problem and the compliance of the patient. Generally, there are two broad categories of orthodontic retainers; removable and fixed. 

  • Removable Retainers – Removable retainers can be worn or removed at your own will, just like the removable dentures. Traditionally, removable aligners are made of acrylic resin that has a wire that forms an arch around the teeth, preventing them from undesired movement. The Invisalign aligner system replaces standard braces as the primary orthodontic treatment. Removable retainers are also worn as maintenance after braces or Invisalign treatment is complete. Schedule your free orthodontic or Invisalign consultation with us today.
  • Fixed Retainers – Fixed retainers are permanently bonded to the teeth with an adhesive resin – on the tongue (lingual) side of your teeth. These retainers are usually worn for the first 4-6 weeks after your initial orthodontic treatment is finished and they can only be removed by your dentist when the desired results have been achieved. Fixed aligners are suitable uncooperative or forgetful patients who frequently tend to break or misplace them

What are the Benefits of Wearing Retainers?

You might be thinking that the retainers only prevent your teeth from back to their old “misaligned” state. But, retainers offer much more than just tooth stabilization. Here are some of the benefits of wearing orthodontic retainers:

  1. Straighten your teeth and maintain your beautiful smile. 
  2. Straightened teeth with braces and retainers minimize the risk of gum tissue inflammation.
  3. Some retainers also help improve breathing problems in children. They may even help with snoring.
  4. Retainers also help children with tongue placement, thereby aiding them in overcoming speech impediments.

How Long Do I Need to Wear the Retainers?

The duration for which you need to wear your retainers depends on two main factors; the severity of your problem and more importantly, your compliance to the dentist’s instructions regarding their use – especially in the case of removable retainers. Generally, you have to wear your removable retainers throughout the day – only removing them for eating or brushing your teeth – for maximum benefit. 

Although retainers are passive appliances – meaning that they are not designed to exert pressure on your teeth – but they must fit snugly to your teeth. If you feel that your fixed retainers have come off, or your removable retainers don’t fit anymore, you must visit your orthodontist immediately to get their repaired or replaced. Remember, failing to wear your retainers for any reason, can seriously affect the outcome of your orthodontic treatment. 

Schedule a Free Orthodontic and Invisalign Consulation Today.