What is the Purpose of an Orthodontic Retainer?

shutterstock_205365574Congratulations! You have spent months working toward your perfect smile, and you finally made it! You can now eat foods you have had to avoid due to their sticky or hard nature. However, there are still some important things to understand to keep your smile as perfect as it was the day your braces were removed.

After a patient completes orthodontic care, they are fitted and provided a retainer. According to Dr. John Budd, the retainer is as important – if not more important – than the braces themselves.  A properly worn retainer will keep you smiling for years to come with well-aligned teeth.   However, the retainer cannot do its job for you if you do not wear it at appropriate times.

When Do I Need to Wear My Retainer?
Some orthodontists urge patients to wear the retainer at night.. Other orthodontists recommend the presence of a retainer at all times. Our office recommends retainer wear for the first two months full time following the completion of orthodontic treatment to allow the teeth to stabilize in their final position.  At that point, we gradually transition to nighttime only wear.

shutterstock_196077644What Are My Options?
There are basically three options to choose from when it comes to orthodontic retainers.  The pink plastic and wire retainer – known as the Hawley retainer – has been around for a long time and does a good job of holding teeth in position.  Another option is the more esthetic clear retainer sometimes referred to as an Invisalign retainer or Invisible retainer.  This option has the added benefit of protecting your teeth from grinding and clenching.  The third option is the lingual retainer or fixed retainer that is glued to the back of your lower front teeth.  This option is very esthetic and you don’t have to remember to wear it because it is glued in.  It does an excellent job of keeping the teeth straight.

Who Else May Need a Retainer?
Long-term use of a retainer is required for patients with certain conditions, such as orofacial muscular imbalance, a condition that causes the tongue to protract through the teeth when swallowing, eating, speaking and while the tongue is at rest. This is commonly referred to as tongue thrust, and the condition impacts 67 – 95 percent of children ages five through eight. Retainers help contain the tongue where it is designed to stay, even while speaking! For many people with tongue thrust, a retainer can help reduce prevent the tongue from doing damage to the teeth.

Dr. Budd is also experienced with another condition defined as temporomandibular disorder, which is alternatively referred to as TMD. He continues to stay updated and educated on temporary anchorage devices that can be very effective in treating a variety of bite problems known as malocclusion.

The orthodontic world is quite intertwined with a variety of oral health issues. While the main purpose of a retainer is to maintain the teeth’s alignment after braces or Invisalign treatment, retainers can also be a solution for multiple conditions. If you would like to learn more, please contact Budd Orthodontics today!

Budd Orthodontics serves the Phoenix community and its nearby cities in two different locations. Our offices welcome children, teens and all adults seeking to improve their oral and overall health with orthodontic treatment. We offer a variety of braces options as well as devices for other oral issues. We invite you to visit one of our offices, so please fill out our free consultation form today