Getting your braces off is very exciting – but now it’s time for a retainer to maintain the new position of your beautiful smile. Patients in the Crestview, Pensacola, and Santa Rosa Beach area can come to Comfort Dental Care and Orthodontics to get the retainers they need.
What Is a Retainer?
A retainer is custom-made, composed of plastic and metal, and fits inside your teeth to help maintain the correct positioning of your teeth. Retainers are highly common and are worn by most patients for a short period of time after their braces are removed. Some patients wear retainers to help address speech impediments, close spaces between their teeth, or solve additional medical issues.
What is a Permanent Retainer?
After your braces are removed, a permanent retainer is an option your orthodontist might recommend. Permanent retainers are attached to the back of your teeth thus preventing them from shifting. Unlike removable retainers, permanent retainers are not removable and are worn 24 hours a day. When you visit our office, our orthodontist will be able to give you an examination and determine which option is right for your case.
Three Types of Retainers
Three basic types of retainers exist today, and each is suited to a different situation.
- Hawley (Removable) Retainers: This is the most common type of retainer, and can be described as a thin piece of acrylic plastic with a wire that is shaped and fitted in your mouth. This retainer is easy to remove and reliable, can be personalized with various designs and colors, and is adjustable to fit the minor movements of your teeth.
- Clear Retainers: Clear retainers are very popular, and are designed much like Invisalign®. These retainers are virtually unnoticeable to others, making them more appealing. However, the downside of these retainers is that they are very delicate, and are thus not recommended for patients who grind their teeth.
- Fixed (Bonded) Retainers: This is a common option for those who need a semi-permanent retainer. They cannot be removed without the help of an orthodontist. If there is a high probability that your teeth might start to shift back to their original position after braces, your doctor might recommend a fixed retainer.
Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer?
Patients might need a retainer for multiple reasons. They include:
- After braces are removed, retainers help keep your teeth in their new, desirable position. This is especially important for children and teens, as teeth tend to shift as their bodies grow and develop.
- You might need to close a gap between your teeth or move a single tooth into its proper place. Patients who have to deal with this issue often wear retainers for several years to close the gap and keep their teeth in place.
- You might need a retainer if you have a tongue thrust, a condition where your tongue sneaks through your teeth when you talk. In these instances, crib or “tongue cage” retainers can be moved to train your tongue to act accordingly.
- If you have temporomandibular disorder or TMJ, and your bite is off, a retainer may be the obvious way to help you resist grinding your teeth – which is a common cause of TMJ.
Regardless of why you get a retainer, they are necessary to make sure you have the beautiful smile you want and deserve. When your braces are removed, a doctor will fit you for a retainer and create a custom treatment plan that addresses how long you will need to wear it. This will be different for every patient; some will need to wear it all day long while others will need to only wear their retainer at night. All patients may feel pressure and soreness during their first few days of wearing a retainer, which is completely normal.
Getting Fitted for and Wearing a Retainer
Getting fitted for a retainer is quick and painless. To make it happen, your orthodontist will use a chewy, thick material – called Alginate – to take an impression of your bite and make a mold. When it is finished, you can have your retainer designed as you please, including with pictures and colors. After your fitting, you will usually receive your retainer in a week.
While a retainer might feel weird at first and impact your mouth comfort, it won’t take long for it to start feeling normal. If speech with a retainer is an issue, our doctor recommends reading aloud every day for several minutes to practice overcoming it.
Caring for Your Retainer
Your retainer will need to be cleaned daily, as your mouth exposes it to different bacteria, leftover food particles, and plaque. Do not leave your retainer near anything hot, and don’t flip it in your mouth, as doing so could cause the wires to bend. Finally, don’t lose your retainer because they are very expensive to replace. Talk to the doctor to discuss how to properly clean and care for your retainer.
How Long Do I Need to Wear a Retainer After Braces?
To ensure your teeth don’t move, you will need to wear a retainer until your gums and jawbone have stabilized around the new position of your teeth. While your doctor will recommend the specifics of your treatment, many orthodontists believe that children and teens should wear their retainers until their early to mid-20s when they have all of their permanent teeth and their jaws stop growing.
How Much Does a Retainer Cost?
The cost of a retainer is different for every patient. At our offices, we have several options for payment, including cash, check, credit card and outside financing through CareCredit® and OrthoBanc® – all to make your treatment affordable.
A retainer is designed to help “retain” the new placement of the teeth after braces. If you are interested in learning more about a retainer, please contact Comfort Dental Care and Orthodontics in Crestview, Pensacola, or Santa Rosa Beach today.