Life After Braces

How To Keep Your Beautiful Smile For A Lifetime

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At ABOUT FACES AND BRACES, we want not only to help you get your dream smile, but also to help you keep it! In no time at all, your braces will come off, and you’ll be able to run your tongue over smooth, straight teeth. You’re still not quite done with orthodontic treatment. The next and final phase, called retention, is just the beginning of your journey to maintaining a beautiful smile. Continue reading to learn more about retention treatment for post orthodontic care.

What Is Retention?

Retention is a very important part of your orthodontic treatment plan. Once your orthodontic treatment has been completed and the braces are removed, you will begin wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Teeth are not set rigidly in the jawbone. Rather, they are held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. It takes several months for periodontal ligaments to adjust to the teeth’s new positions once they have moved. A retainer is important because without one, your teeth will move away from an ideal position. Therefore, if you want to keep your new smile it’s essential to wear your retainer as directed. With conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces and maintain the healthy smile you worked so hard to achieve.

Types Of Retainers

All retainers are custom-made just for you. Dr. Shawn and Dr. Candice will recommend the type(s) that will work best in your situation. Three basic types of retainers we have available include:

  • Hawley Retainer“Hawley” Retainer – a thin tongue-shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position and can be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements. It is simple, durable and easily removable. The plastic arch can be customized to different colors or designs.

  • h-clearAligners.jpgClear Aligner Retainer – looks similar to the Invisalign® system tray and is custom made of this, transparent plastic, designed to fit precisely over your teeth. The main advantage is that it is invisible with no wire showing.

  • lingualbondedretainer2.jpgFixed Retainers – this retainer, as implied, cannot be removed nor is it visible. A wire is bonded along the inside of the teeth and can remain in place for months, even years. This type of retainer is recommended when there’s a greater chance that the teeth could move back to their former position.

Adjusting to Wearing a Retainer

The doctors will advise you on when you should wear your retainer but most patients will wear theirs just at night. It takes no time at all to get adjusted to wearing a retainer.  While wearing a retainer, you may find that you produce more saliva, a normal reaction to a foreign object being in the mouth. It may also be a bit hard to talk at first, but you’ll adjust and talk normally in no time at all.  When eating or brushing your teeth, removable retainers can be taken out.

How to Take Care of Your Retainer

It is important to properly clean your retainer to ensure that it stays fresh and germ free. Here are some tips on how to clean and maintain your retainer:

  • Gently brush clear removable retainers with a regular toothbrush
  • Clean using powder or tablet form denture or retainer cleaners
  • Fixed Retainers – clean by brushing and flossing (floss threader or interproximal brush)
  • Do not expose retainer to very hot water when washing it, as it can warp the retainer into something unusable

It is VERY IMPORTANT to always carry and use a retainer case. Utilizing a retainer case can prevent your retainer from accidentally breaking and lessen the probability of losing your retainer as well.