Retainers: What You Need to Know

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, getting your braces off makes for an exciting day!

The purpose of metal braces – and clear plastic aligners, too – is to gently move the teeth from a less healthy position into a treated position. This is done through the continuous application of a very small amount of force. The teeth move naturally over time and remain fully supported by the gums and bone.

Depending on the age of the patient and their orthodontic concerns, it can take anywhere from a few months to about three years to achieve full results from orthodontic treatment. Once you are done with your braces or aligners, you’ll have a much healthier mouth because of the natural distribution of the teeth.

That has a number of terrific benefits:

  • You’ll be less likely to have teeth chip or crack, thanks to even bite force
  • It’ll be easier to keep teeth clean and avoid cavities, plaque, and the rest
  • You can feel better about your smile and enjoy the benefits of a newfound confidence
  • You’ll never need to worry about intensive orthodontic treatment again

But that does raise an important question: How do the teeth stay where they’re supposed to be?

The answer is the retainer, and it’s a good idea to know all about it.

Almost All Orthodontic Patients Will Need a Retainer

A retainer is a kind of orthodontic appliance that uses an even gentler level of force to make sure teeth don’t move out of the treated position in the future. The unwanted movement of teeth is called “migration” and it can be a real hassle! Luckily, the use of a retainer will stop it in its tracks.

While some of the very youngest patients won’t need a retainer, almost all teens and adults who use braces should also use a retainer after they get their braces removed. Naturally, you can get your retainer from your favorite Port Orange orthodontist, and you will probably use the same one for years.

There Are Two Different Types of Orthodontic Retainers

There are two major kinds of orthodontic retainers. Both of them are just as effective, so the choice of which one to use is based on personal preference. Before you get a retainer, Dr. Beauchamp will walk you through the two options and help you make an informed decision.

The two kinds of retainers are:

Removable Retainers: If you opt for a removable retainer, you’ll usually be expected to wear it all day long for a few months or even a year. Eventually, you will be able to get the necessary effects while wearing it only during the night. It is helpful to have a case to hold your retainer when it isn’t in use.

A removable retainer is ideal for responsible teens and adults who want to have the option of taking a retainer out when they are playing sports or engaging in other activities where there’s a risk of injury to the mouth. A removable retainer is also ideal if you wish to avoid having a permanent retainer installed.

Permanent Retainers: A permanent retainer is installed behind the teeth. It is not visible to anyone, including you. A permanent retainer is great if you want the most comfortable and convenient experience possible. It may be necessary to replace the retainer in the future – it takes about 20 years for a retainer to wear out.

When you first get an orthodontic retainer, it’s a wise idea to schedule a follow-up appointment with your Central Florida orthodontist. During that first appointment, your orthodontist will verify the retainer works exactly as expected. After that, you might only need to see your orthodontist once or twice a year.

How to Care for a Retainer

Caring for a retainer all depends on the kind of retainer you have:

For a permanent retainer, brush and floss as usual, taking care to brush the different parts of the retainer itself. You should try to brush at least twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) as well as after meals when possible. Fluoridated mouthwash can be helpful, but it is not essential to keeping your retainer clean.

For a removable retainer, you can choose to remove the retainer and brush it or you can submerge it in a cup full of retainer cleaning fluid. Be sure you use an appropriate cleaning fluid since not all cleaning products that are intended for dentures will be effective for retainers.

Have more questions? Schedule your consultation with Beauchamp Orthodontics to get answers directly from Dr. Marielle Beauchamp, a leading board-certified orthodontist in Port Orange.


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