Once orthodontic treatment is complete, you can keep your new smile straight by wearing a retainer. Wearing your retainer as directed will help maintain your new smile and also allow for small adjustments to be made, if needed, once your braces have been removed.
Dr. Coats will review your options and provide specific instructions on the wear and care of your new retainers.
Orthodontic Retainer FAQs
Why do I need to wear a retainer?
If you just finished treatment involving braces and your teeth are straight, you may wonder why you need a retainer. But, just as your body continues to grow and change throughout life, your teeth do, too. So, while they may be straight now, without the help of a retainer, your teeth can shift again over time.
A retainer works to hold the teeth in place as the bone rebuilds and heals after all your teeth have moved – and it helps keep your teeth in their new position. It is an important part of maintaining a healthy, happy smile for years to come.
Are there different types of retainers?
Yes, there are different types of retainers.
- Traditional removable retainers are made of metal wire and acrylic.
- 3D clear retainers are made of plastic and fit over the teeth entirely. These keep teeth in place but also help against nighttime grinding.
- Fixed or bonded retainers are permanent, usually lifelong retainers that consist of a wire glued to the back of the front teeth.
Each type serves a particular purpose. Your orthodontist will be able to tell you which will work best for your needs.
What happens if my retainer feels funny?
When you have a new retainer, it is likely going to feel funny for a while. It may even taste funny, too. Because your mouth isn’t used to it, you may even find that your speech is affected. This is all normal.
Rest easy as all of this newness and funny feeling will only last for a couple of days. You will get used to the retainer and will get more comfortable talking with it. The more you practice, the easier and more normal it will begin to feel. Though, if you are truly uncomfortable after a few days, contact your orthodontist.
How do I care for my retainer?
You want your new retainer to last which means you need to take good care of it. While it is in your mouth, leave it alone – no matter how tempting it may be. Don’t play with it, bite it, or do anything that will cause damage or break the wires.
Clean your retainer regularly using a toothbrush and toothpaste. To make it a convenient habit, clean your retainer each time you brush your teeth. If you prefer, soaking methods are available using over-the-counter solutions you buy at the store.
The best cleaning method may vary based on your specific retainer. Be sure to discuss this with your orthodontist.
What do I do with my retainer when I take it out?
If you have to take your retainer out, put it in a retainer case. These are easy to carry with you, put in your pocket, backpack, purse, etc. Always placing it in the case when you aren’t wearing it ensures that you won’t lose it.
Never just stick your retainer in your pocket or wrap it in a wad of napkins that can easily be thrown out. Lost or damaged retainers can be costly to replace – especially if you have a habit of doing this.
Will I have to wear my retainer all the time - forever?
You want your retainer to keep your teeth in place. And since your teeth will shift throughout life, it is pretty safe to say that your retainer will be with you for as long as you live. You should wear your retainer as much as possible. Or, at the very least, at night.
Follow your orthodontist’s instructions for wearing your retainer as it pertains to you.