Posted on December 6, 2022
Retainers are the follow-up treatment after having braces removed. They can be permanently bonded to your teeth (behind the teeth, of course), or they can be removable dental appliances shaped to match your teeth’s positions. Braces and retainers seem annoying but play an important role in ensuring your newly straightened teeth stay where they are, as they can still move if not restrained. But not a lot of people appreciate what retainers really do and why they’re necessary.
Retainers hold your teeth in place. This is why they’re called retainers; they force your teeth to retain the shape they’re in. If you don’t wear your retainer for a while and try putting it back in, you’ll notice it feels tight and that your teeth feel out of alignment. While your teeth gradually move back to the retainer’s shape, that still shows how easily your teeth can move when not restricted by anything. The movement is gradual, so you may think you really don’t need yours, but you do. Nearly a quarter of those who have had braces end up needing to get a second set of braces later in life, all because they didn’t wear their retainers.
For removable retainers, you’ll have to clean them daily and nightly, use toothpaste as well and dunk them in mouthwash. Food debris left in your mouth when you’re done eating can stick to the retainer, so cleaning it daily is a necessity. Remember to clean the retainer case, as well. Braces and retainers can begin to get rather gross if you don’t care for them properly.
If the retainer is damaged or lost, don’t assume that’s the end of it and that you don’t have to wear it ever again. Contact your orthodontist to get a replacement. And if you’re worried about the cost, well, that’s another reason to take very good care of the retainer. Keep it in its case when it’s not in use and not being cleaned.
There’s no telling how long you’ll need to wear the retainer after having your braces removed. Healthline notes that some orthodontists recommend wearing it constantly for a few months and then nightly thereafter. Others say retainers need to be used indefinitely.
If you need to get a new retainer or are having issues with your current one, contact your orthodontist. Braces and retainers help you keep the results of all those months with braces, and your mouth will feel and look better if you wear the retainer as advised.