Why You Need to Wear a Retainer

Retainers after braces

The most exciting part of braces is arguable your results. We understand that when your orthodontist utters the words “it’s time for your braces to be removed” you may be feeling over the moon and bursting with sheer excitement. But hold your horses! It’s not quite over just yet. There is still another aspect to having braces; the final step. The retainer.

Why you need to wear a retainer

Orthodontic treatment doesn’t stop after brackets are removed. While you may be “wowed” by your results, we want to ensure that your smile stays this way. Teeth have a pesky habit of moving. And the last thing we would want after a significant time in braces if to have your teeth shift back to their original places once we have removed your braces. This is why it is necessary for you to enter into what is often called the “retention phase” once your braces have come off.

This is where a retainer comes in. Your orthodontist will fit you for a retainer that you will have to wear morning and night for a while to ensure that you can maintain your wonderful results. There are a few reasons why your teeth may move back if you do not wear a retainer. These include:

Ligaments aren’t fixed: The periodontal ligament is the name of the connector that attaches each tooth to a jaw bone. These ligaments are elastic and are the reason as to why orthodontic treatments are able to move teeth, to begin with, and why they are able to move after treatment.

Nothing is holding the teeth in place: When you have braces or a retainer on your teeth, the appliance is preventing your teeth from going where they might go on their own. But once any external structures are removed, your teeth are free to follow their own paths.

Various forces act on the teeth: You’re constantly using your mouth, and whenever you bite down, you’re putting a bit of pressure on your teeth. Your tongue is also putting constant pressure on your teeth, be it from talking or eating.  Over time, these forces can cause your teeth to move.

Mouth memory lasts a long time: Those periodontic ligaments and other structures that hold your teeth in place “remember” in a sense where they once were. When the braces come off, your teeth may shift back into their old places.

Different types of retainers

Not all retainers are created equally. Retainers come in different styles and can be worn for different periods of time. There are plastic retainers, removable retainers and fixed retainers.

Plastic retainers are customised to fit you specifically. They are made from a clear plastic that fits directly over your teeth. These may be prescribed for a period of time after your braces have been removed. These types of retainers are removable.

Removable retainers are retainers that consist of wire and are removable by nature. Compared to their plastic counterpart, this type of retainer is typically easier to clean and lasts longer.

Fixed retainers can give you peace of mind as these are cemented to your teeth. These types of retainer are not noticeable as they are placed on the inside of your teeth.

Regardless of what retainer your orthodontist recommends, it is imperative that you follow his/her instructions after your braces have been removed. This can ensure that you can enjoy your straight smile for a lifetime.