After your orthondontic treatment is finished, and your braces are removed, you will need retainers to hold your teeth in their new positions.
For how long do I need to wear retainers?
It takes time for the bone and all the tissues around your teeth to reorganise and therefore it is necessary to use retainers until your bite stabilises. In the first month after the braces are removed, the risk of relapse is very high.
Relapse means that the teeth can take up to one year or more to stabilize after treatment. If you had gaps between your teeth before treatment, the retention period will be longer.
Usually, retainers are worn for as long a time as you have had your braces. If your teeth move back to their original positions, you may need fixed braces again to correct them.
Nearly 25% of orthodontic patients have to wear braces again because they didn’t wear their retainers!
What Will My Retainers Look Like?
At one time, all retainers were made of pink plastic and silvery wire, and were removable. That kind is still available, but now you may have a choice of different colors or patterns — you might even be able to customize yours! Another alternative that may be appropriate is a clear retainer that fits over your teeth, making it nearly invisible. In some cases, you can have a thin wire bonded to the inside of the teeth instead of a removable retainer. It doesn't show, and you don't have to worry about taking it out.
Do I have to Wear Them All the Time?
Your orthodontist will prescribe the retention plan that is best for you. Some retainers are used full-time for the first 6 months; after that, the retainers are worn only at night, for a few years. Other retainers are worn full-time for about a week, and solely at night thereafter. Fixed retainers are normally kept in place for 5 years.
Is it Important to Use Your Retainers as Instructed?
Removable retainers should be taken out during eating, contact sports and when you brush your teeth. To clean the retainers, remove them first and brush them in tap water using a toothbrush and some toothpaste. Brush your teeth after this.
The safest place for your retainers is in your mouth. If you are not using the retainers they should always be kept in a box. There is a great risk of losing retainers if they are wrapped in tissue paper after you remove them from your mouth.
How Will Retainers Affect My Daily Life?
A removable retainer has a wire holding the front teeth. It will be visible but much less than the fixed braces. If you have a removable retainer in your upper jaw, it will take you one to two days to get accustomed to them and speak properly. It is normal to experience a lot of saliva in your mouth with a new retainer.
Always bring the box to store your retainer should you need to remove them. If you have a fixed retainer, you should spend more time to brush the back of your teeth. You have to brush all around the wire so that calculus will not form. You will be instructed on how to use dental floss with a floss-threader. Remember not to use your front teeth for biting hard foods or objects. Fixed retainers do not affect speech.
Will my teeth never change when the period of retention is over?
Bone has the capacity to change and remodel for as long as we live; that is why a broken bone can heal.
From 20 to 50 years of age, faces mature and teeth continue to push forward, causing crowding of the lower front teeth. This happens regardless of whether you have had wisdom teeth removed, extractions of teeth or previous orthodontic treatment for crowded teeth.
To avoid the risk of late crowding, removable retainers can be worn at night for a longer period and fixed retainers kept in for more than 5 years.
Adult patients usually sleep with their retainers on for the rest of their lives, if they want their teeth in perfect alignment.