For any braces-wearer, the day when their braces are due to come off is probably circled in red on the calendar. It’s an exciting accomplishment, but once those brackets are removed, that doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment is completely over. There is still the very important matter of a retainer. Braces straighten your teeth, and once those wires and brackets have been taken off, it’s important to know how to keep your smile straight. A retainer gets the job done.
Why a Retainer is So Important
A retainer is a small, customized device that is worn after braces are removed in order to reinforce the new position of your teeth. Wearing a retainer can feel like a big annoyance – especially for teens who are more than ready to finally be done with all this orthodontia – but after the time and money that have been put into braces, letting a beautiful straight smile return to its unaligned form would be a huge waste.
When your orthodontist removes your braces, they will evaluate your smile, teeth, and bone structure. At this point, a determination will be made about whether it’s necessary to wear a retainer day and night for several months – minus meal times and brushing and flossing, of course.
After a period of wear, it may be decided that you only need to wear your retainer at night. Your orthodontist, however, is unlikely to ever recommend that you stop wearing your retainer permanently. Wearing a retainer is a continued investment in your new smile. Failure to wear your retainer consistently means that tissues surrounding your teeth will be unsupported and noticeable shifting may take place.
In short, a retainer allows you to maintain and keep that beautiful smile you worked so hard to achieve.
If You Choose Not to Wear Your Retainer
If you take it upon yourself to decide that you no longer need to wear your retainer, or if you misplace the device for a period of time, don’t be surprised if the retainer doesn’t fit the next time you try to put it in your mouth.
The slightest pressure from your lips and tongue can cause your teeth to shift out of alignment. Even if your smile and teeth don’t look any different, that doesn’t mean they haven’t moved. Continuing to ignore the prescribed retainer treatment for your teeth means your teeth may continue to move until misalignment is noticeable once again.
Ultimately, you may need to repeat your orthodontic treatment or, at the very least, be fitted for a new retainer.
What Kind of Retainer Options Are There?
Just as you can choose between traditional metal braces, clear braces, or invisible aligners, retainers are also available in a variety of forms. There are many that can be worn discreetly – ask your orthodontist about the types of retainers that are available for your specific needs.
Remember, your orthodontic treatment is a huge investment. A retainer will help protect this investment so take good care of the device – take it out if you’ll be eating or drinking foods that are very hot or very cold, clean it, and, most of all, wear your retainer as prescribed. Make your appointment at Baum Orthodontics to discuss your orthodontia needs.