Wearing a retainer after braces can be a bit discouraging after months and months of already having metal in your mouth. Many people ask their orthodontist, “Why do you need a retainer after braces?” The fact of the matter is: the retainer is what will keep your teeth in their new position after your braces have done so much of the heavy lifting.
This is especially the case for children wearing braces. As you mature, your teeth do some natural shifting of their own. And if you want to keep your teeth aligned without any major shifting, wearing a retainer is the way to go.
After all of your hard work wearing braces and keeping them clean, don’t you want the best results possible? You’d be quite unhappy if your teeth shifted back into their original position after the time and money you put into them. Learn exactly why you need to wear a retainer after braces below!
How Retainers Work
The only reason our teeth stay attaches to our gums is because of the ligaments and other fibers anchoring them to the right place in our mouths. The pressure added onto these ligaments while your braces are on loosens up the teeth. This allows them to shift into their new position with ease.
Once you have your braces removed, you’ll need that retainer to keep your teeth in place. Without the help of the retainer, your teeth would naturally move back into their original place. And that would be a huge disappointment after making such a big investment in the first place.
Younger patients have somewhat of an easier experience maintaining their new teeth alignment than adults do. This is because children’s teeth have a better chance of staying in place. Their ligaments get to wrap around the teeth into their new position very easily.
For adults, their ligaments are strongly attached and require consistent use of a retainer. Adult teeth are also much more prone to shift back into their original positions. Keep this in mind if you are an adult seeking aftercare for your braces!
As soon as you remove your braces, your orthodontist or dentist should be fitting you for a retainer. They will provide specific directions about when and how long you’ll need to wear it. With most patients, the retainer should be worn every day, all day for three to four months before going down to only wearing them at night.
Retainers aren’t particularly painful, but it varies from person to person. You should be especially patient with yourself and take your time so that your mouth can get used to the new feeling. After the first few months, you’ll hardly notice that you have a retainer in your mouth.
Different Types of Retainers
There are two common types of retainers: fixed and removable.
Fixed retainers are designed by bonding a wire to the back of your teeth. Only an orthodontist can remove these types of retainers. Fixed retainers are usually prescribed if the orthodontist isn’t confident that the patient will comply with the requirements for wearing the retainer properly.
A removable retainer, on the other hand, can be removed by the patient at any time. If the orthodontist is confident that the retainer will be worn as instructed, they are more likely to prescribe the removable retainer. Speak with your orthodontist about your options and suggest which type would be best for you and your normal dental routine.
How Long You Should Wear a Retainer
If you’re using a removable retainer, you’ll be most successful by following our orthodontist’s instructions top to bottom. You’ll likely need to wear your removable retainer all of the time for the first two to four months. Once your orthodontist approves of your progress, you should be able to switch to only wearing them at night.
It is generally advised that you keep a fixed retainer forever for the best treatment. This is particularly for adults since they have greater possibilities for shifting in comparison to children and teenagers. Even children with fixed retainers are recommended to keep them in for a minimum of ten years.
However, similar to having fixed retainers, you may want to wear your retainers every single night for life. That way, you can strengthen your chances of having a beautiful smile forever. But as always, speak to your orthodontist about your specific case.
The bones surrounding your teeth will remain soft even months after removing your braces. This is why it’s imperative for you to wear a retainer every day. This is how you’ll best prevent your teeth from shifting back into their previous positions.
As time goes on, the bone surrounding your teeth will start to harden. This will give you the opportunity to wear your retainer a lot less often, such as strictly at night. Yet, wearing them as often as possible is still the best way to lessen the chances of shifting occurring.
Your teeth naturally shift as you mature and will require some work on your end to keep them straight. If you want to maintain the beautiful smile you worked hard for, follow your orthodontist’s instructions exactly. And if you have any doubts about your teeth staying locked into position, also speak with your orthodontist directly.
Your Retainer Is as Important as Your Braces
Despite you having to wear your braces for such a long time, your teeth can move right back to where they started. Hence why it’s so important for you to wear a retainer after braces. If you want to avoid seeing your money and hard work go right down the drain, wear a dental retainer!
Find the perfect retainer for you by speaking with one of our specialists today!