Thinking about straightening out your smile? You’re not alone. However, braces are no longer the only option you can choose when trying to improve your smile.
In fact, the global orthodontic retainer market is expected to reach $388 million by 2024.
As more people consider retainers as their go-to form of orthodontic treatment, they’re also asking more questions. Which patients are wearing retainers? How do they work?
How do you take care of them?
In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about dental retainers. As an effective orthodontic treatment, your retainer can help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. Get started by reading this comprehensive guide!
What Are Retainers For?
After your braces or clear aligner is removed, you’ll still want to keep your teeth in their new position. Otherwise, your smile might start to shift again.
Retainers are an important step in your orthodontist treatment. Without them, the ligaments and tissues in your mouth might slip back into their previous positions. By wearing retainers, you can ensure your teeth maintain their new position, allowing you to keep a straight smile.
Failing to wear your retainer, however, can cause you to waste all the time and money you spent on braces in the first place.
After they remove your braces, your orthodontist will explain how and when you should wear your retainer.
It’s important to wear your retainer every day, all day, especially in the first few months. After a while, you’ll only need to wear your retainer at night. In order to ensure your new smile lasts, you need to keep your retainer on.
Some patients will require permanent, or bonded retainers. These retainers are glued to the teeth using a dental bonding agent. They’re most often used for patients who have a likelihood of relapse, such as younger patients.
Your retainer is fit to the shape and alignment of your teeth, meaning your retainer is customized for your needs.
Some patients have a condition called bruxism that causes them to grind their teeth. In time, this can cause them to chip or break a tooth. These patients are ideal candidates for an Essix retainer, which can prevent them from damaging their teeth.
However, your dentist might also suggest a Hawley retainer, which is made of acrylic and metal wire. A clear retainer, such as Invisalign aligners, is clear and therefore less obvious.
Retainers aren’t meant to realign your teeth. Rather, they’re meant to keep your teeth in alignment after orthodontic treatment such as braces.
Proper Retainer Care & Maintenance
Now that you understand a little more about what retainers are, less taking care of your retainer.
Your retainer, like your teeth, is prone to bacteria buildup. In time, the bacteria can cause plaque and tartar, which can lead to gum disease. The white spots you might see on your retainer is caused by calcium buildup.
It’s important to take proper care of your teeth, gums, and your retainer.
After all, you don’t want to brush your teeth only to stick a bacteria-ridden retainer in your mouth.
Neglecting to take proper care of your retainer can cause it to develop a bad odor as well as discoloration. You should clean your retainer each time you brush your teeth.
First, grab a toothbrush, retainer cleaner, and toothpaste.
Then, rinse your retainer under lukewarm water. It’s important the water isn’t too hot or too cold, which could impact the retainer’s shape. Then, apply toothpaste to a soft-bristled toothbrush or a retainer brush.
Using small circles, brush the retainer inside and out.
After brushing the retainer clean, wash it under lukewarm water again.
Complete a visual inspection to check for tartar or calcium buildup. If you notice calcium against your retainer, you’ll need a stronger retainer cleaning solution.
After cleaning your retainer, make sure to place it in a case to dry or make in your mouth.
63% of patients are given oral instructions about taking care of their retainers. Make sure to write down any instructions your orthodontist provides so you can keep your retainer clean and safe.
Wearing Your Retainer
At first, wearing retainers can cause pain. Remember, it took a little time for your mouth to adapt to your braces. Your mouth will need time to adapt to your new retainer as well.
For example, it’s common for your retainer to feel tight or slightly uncomfortable.
However, this pain shouldn’t last longer than a few days. If you’re still experiencing discomfort after a week, make sure to schedule an orthodontist. They might need to adjust your retainer to make sure it fits properly.
Your retainer might also make speech a little difficult at first. For example, you might develop a lisp.
Practicing talking in front of a mirror. In the meantime, remember your mouth might need a few days to adjust to your retainer taking up space.
If you wear your retainer for a few weeks and it still feels tight, it sometimes indicates you’re not wearing your retainer enough. Make sure you’re wearing retainers as often as possible. Even abandoning your retainers for a day or two can cause your teeth to shift.
This is what causes your retainer to feel tight when you put it back on.
Your orthodontist will let you know how long you’ll need to wear your retainer. The time range can fall between a few months to a year. After that, you might only need to wear your retainer at night.
In order to retain your beautiful smile, you’ll need to wear your retainer for the rest of your life.
While it’s important to wear your retainer every single day, throughout the day, you should remove your retainers before eating. Food can damage your retainers, impact the fit, and cause food particles to get stuck between your retainer and teeth.
Don’t forget to brush your teeth after eating (before you put your retainer back in).
Avoid wrapping your retainer in a napkin during meals. This could cause you to lose or accidentally throw it away. Instead, keep your retainer in its case when you’re not wearing it.
Make sure not to keep your retainer near heat, which could change the shape.
By protecting your retainer, you’re also preserving your beautiful smile!
Wearing Retainers: Your Path to a Straighter Smile
Wearing retainers every day will help you maintain your brand new smile. With this guide, you can keep it clean, make sure it fits properly, and understand the importance of wearing your retainer every day.
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