After Phoenix orthodontist Dr. John Budd removes your braces to reveal a beautiful smile, he will take impressions to make a retainer. Many patients ask if they are required to wear their retainer as diligently as Dr. Budd prescribes. The most straightforward answer is yes. Here are some of the most common questions about proper retainer use after braces removal.
Your gums are partly composed of elastin, a protein that allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Braces straighten your teeth by taking advantage of the body's ability to mold and adapt to change, spacing and straightening each tooth by remodeling the bone around the roots of your teeth. As a result of elastin, your teeth will begin to revert to their former, crooked state after the braces are removed. The only way to stop this process is through the use of a retainer.
There are three different kinds of retainers patients can choose from. Removable versions like Hawley orthodontic retainers use a retaining bow wire across the front of the teeth to keep them aligned while the plastic body fits snugly over the roof of your mouth or along the back of the lower teeth. These adjustable retainers are the most popular, as they are durable and easily repaired if damaged.
Removable, “invisible” retainers, such as Invisalign, are also becoming increasingly popular, partly due to their cosmetic appeal. These clear, vacuum-molded plastic appliances fit snugly over your teeth, providing additional protection from grinding and clenching.
The last type of retainer is called a lingual or fixed retainer, a permanent solution for dental relapse. Wires are bonded to the back of the teeth, allowing you to eat, clean and even floss normally with just a little extra effort.
You will need to wear your retainer for the rest of your life. For the first two months after getting your braces removed, Scottsdale orthodontist Dr. John Budd recommends wearing your retainer full-time, throughout the day and all night. After this two-month period, you can switch to wearing your retainer exclusively at night. Many people transition to wearing their retainers three or four nights a week several years after their treatment has ended. It is important to remember that your teeth will still relapse even years after braces removal without proper care, so it is imperative that you wear your retainer diligently.
If you lose your retainer, call our Phoenix orthodontist offices as soon as possible so we can make a replacement. In order to avoid retainer mishaps, keep them in a safe place in a closed container and make your contact information easily visible on the case.
All is not lost if you suffer from relapse. Treatment is often easier and faster the second time around and can be accomplished with Invisalign instead of wire braces.
Keeping your retainer clean and free of bacteria is extremely important. Naturally occurring proteins in your saliva can cause a smelly, yellow film to build up on a retainer over time. In order to avoid this, remove your retainer when eating and take the time to brush the retainer and your teeth before putting it back in your mouth. At the very least, Dr. Budd encourages you to rinse the retainer off with water.
If build-up does occur, it is advised to use a denture cleaner or dental appliance cleaning agent to kill off bacteria. Soaking the retainer in dish washing liquid or mouthwash is strongly discouraged, as these liquids can cause retainer discoloration.
Contact our Phoenix orthodontists with any other questions you have about retainers, their care and the importance of wearing them consistently. Give us a call to start working towards a perfect smile today.