What happens after braces – introduction to dental retainers.
So, you’re done with braces, pleased with your beautifully newly-positioned set of teeth and you’re probably thinking to yourself: I am finally done!
Well, we hate to be the ones breaking it to you, but your teeth repositioning journey does not stop here. In fact, you’re starting a new chapter, the phase of retainers. Before you start complaining about how retainers are going to be just like braces, don’t panic just yet. Here is all you need to know about retainers summarised in one article, just for you.
What are retainers?
Just like what its name suggests, retainers help to retain your newly-positioned teeth after the procedure of braces, keeping your teeth in place even after removing your braces.
Retainers are in fact equally important compared to braces. It is highly important to wear your retainers and here’s why. Like how our bones are able to change and adjust constantly, our teeth have the ability to shift back and revert into their original placing even after undergoing the full process of braces.
Your teeth can be subjected to moving even after braces, due to factors such as the impact of tongue, cheek and lips, genetics, tooth loss, age and ligaments. It is highly essential that you dutifully wear your dental retainers for the period of time stipulated by your dentist (or maybe the rest of your life) to maintain your teeth’s new position and alignment.
How do dental retainers work?
What retainers do is they hold your teeth in their new place, after going through the entire process of braces. It helps to prevent and inhibit any shifting of the teeth back to their old positions, by restricting the teeth to the shape of the retainers.
There are two types of retainers – fixed or removable. Fixed retainers are custom-made wires that are stuck to the back of your teeth, typically the lower six front teeth. They act as passive braces, holding the teeth in place so that the teeth are less likely to shift out of place and are not visible to others.
On the other hand, removable retainers can be clear ones that are made of plastic or they can be fabricated with wires and with a thicker plastic (Hawley retainers). Removable retainers are visible and require discipline to be worn.
How long do I need to wear retainers for?
The duration of wearing retainers often differs from individual to individual, as well as the orthodontists that you approach. The type of retainers suggested by different orthodontists differs as well. In general, individuals wear their dental retainers full-time for at least six months.
During these first six months, individuals are encouraged to wear the retainers for 22 hours a day, excluding the times where the retainers have to be taken off during mealtimes or when the individual needs to brush teeth.
After this, usually the orthodontist would then allow the individuals to wear the retainers during night time only when they are asleep. Though nighttime wear might seem like a big commitment, it actually is not. A lot of the time, wearing dental retainers at night becomes a very natural thing to add to the night time routine of individuals the more they wear it.
Do retainers need any maintaining?
Retainers are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, as well as plaque and tartar if you don’t keep it clean.
If you don’t clean your retainers and they harbour too much bacteria, it can bring about the risk of you falling sick. Here are a few simple tips to follow to keep your retainers clean :
- Wash your retainers every day.
To clean your them thoroughly, use a brush with dish soap or regular toothpaste and gently brush it like how you would brush your teeth to get rid of any bacteria or plague, then rinse it with normal tap water.
- Always store your retainers in the protective case
You may find yourself being tempted to just carry your retainers around in tissue paper when you’re out and about running errands. However, this means your dental retainers are very prone to damage and breakage. For plastic retainers, they can crack if it gets too dry, you should always soak it when it isn’t in your mouth.
- Take your retainers out when you go for a swim
The chlorine in the water can cause your retainers to discolour.
Conclusion – It’s time to be disciplined and wear your dental retainers!
Now that you know all about retainers and how much they help in keeping your teeth in their new positions post braces, we hope that you will find the discipline to diligently wear them and keep your smile bright and shining!
Here at Vivid Dental Surgeons, we aim to educate and raise awareness for matters and issues regarding oral and dental hygiene. If you are interested in learning more, click here to read other related articles on our blog. Dr Ryan is also open to answering any questions you have regarding oral health matters, drop him a message here.
Dr Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wishes everyone well and that you remain safe and virus-free!