Retainers After Braces: What You Should Know

Team Orthodontics, Retainers

Once you get your braces off you’re done right? Not exactly. Now that your teeth have been properly aligned and your bite pattern is correct, how can you ensure they will stay in the proper places? Retainers are what is necessary to maintain your beautiful new smile. Retainers, as their name suggests, retain the position of the teeth so that there is no relapse.

Now that the braces are off and the retainers are made, what happens now? Here’s what you need to know about retainers following braces or other orthodontic treatment.


Retainers Are Important


It is very important that you wear your retainers as your orthodontist instructs you to after you get your braces off. Braces move your teeth around, sometimes drastically, and it takes a while for those new positions to become permanent. Retainers hold the current position of your teeth so that the jaw, muscles, and gum tissue can form more tightly around them. We now know that retainers are for a lifetime. Our teeth, with a few exceptions, never stop shifting; thus retainers are very important to maintain them in their new straight positions.


You May Need to Wear Your Retainers All the Time at First


Right after getting your braces off, an orthodontist may suggest that you wear your retainers all the time for the first few weeks or months. At Woodhill Dental Specialties, we place fixed or “permanent” retainers behind the upper and lower front teeth and we also fabricate removable retainers (clear) based on a digital impression (no more gooey impressions). With this approach, we ask that you wear your removable retainers at night while sleeping to help maintain proper alignment because you have a titanium wire adhered to the backs of your upper and lower front teeth (the most likely teeth to change position).If you put your retainers in at and they feel tight, it is necessary to wear them more for a while until your teeth get back into place.


It is Recommended that You Never Stop Wearing Your Retainers


Is there a point where you can stop wearing your retainers? Most experts say no. It is recommended that you continue to wear them at night most nights for the rest of your life. You can skip a night or two and be ok, but make sure they still fit when you put them back in. If they feel tight after skipping a night, wear them every night until they feel right again. It is easy for teeth to shift out of place when you stop wearing your retainers, even if you wore them every night for years. Everyone is different and so are their teeth so we will help you develop a lifelong schedule. Some people wear them less than others long term because their teeth are more stable. Some continue to wear them nightly or at least should because they grind their teeth and the retainers can help protect the teeth from wearing down.


Consequences of Not Wearing Your Retainers


If you don’t wear your retainers enough or if you stop wearing them altogether, your teeth may shift back into their original places, undoing all of your progress. To correct your teeth again, you will need to get braces put on again. You’ll have to pay for them again and go through the treatment process again to achieve the same results. The bottom line: it is absolutely worth it to wear your retainers as you are instructed.


Retainers Can be Used to Make Further Adjustments


Sometimes your orthodontist will need to make small changes to the position of your teeth after your braces are off. Retainers make it possible to do so without having to get your braces put back on. Sometimes just a small tweak to a wire or a change in the shape of the plastic can be all that is necessary to make an adjustment to the position of the teeth.


Caring for Retainers


Make sure you always store your retainers in the case your orthodontist gives you. Never wrap them in a napkin or tissue, because they are easily thrown away by accident. If you take them out to eat, do not set them on your tray or plate because they are likely to get thrown in the trash or washed down the sink.

When you take your retainers out, brush them with your toothbrush and toothpaste the same as you do your teeth. Additionally, there are special tablets that can be used to keep them sparkling clean. Then store them in your case which also needs to be kept clean – not the place to conduct a science project. It is also important to keep them away from pets, who are strangely attracted to retainers and enjoy chewing them up.


Orthodontic Care at Woodhill Dental Specialties


At Woodhill Dental Specialties, we offer orthodontic services in addition to general pediatric dentistry services. All of your oral health needs can be met at one convenient location. From routine dental cleanings to braces and retainers, Woodhill Dental Specialties can help you achieve the best possible dental health.

Call 214-691-1172 to schedule a consultation at our Dallas office or 469-769-5727 for our Rockwall office. We look forward to providing you with a full range of dental services.