Orthodontic retainers are a common dental appliance that is used to keep your teeth in place after completing orthodontic treatment. While braces or aligners straighten your teeth, retainers help maintain that alignment and prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original positions.
Types of Retainers:
There are two primary types of retainers: removable and fixed.
Removable retainers are made of a clear plastic or acrylic material that fits over your teeth. They are easy to clean and can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. Removable retainers are typically worn full-time for the first few months after orthodontic treatment and then gradually phased out to only wearing at night or a few times per week. There are also clear removable retainers that look like an Invisalign aligner, and can be worn throughout the day, only removing it for meals and cleaning.
Fixed retainers, on the other hand, are cemented to the back of your teeth and cannot be removed. They are typically made of a thin wire that is bonded to the lingual (tongue-side) surface of your teeth. Fixed retainers are usually used for the lower front teeth and are considered the more long-term option since they require less patient compliance and more durable than a removable retainer.
Benefits of Retainers:
The main benefit of retainers is that they help maintain the alignment of your teeth after orthodontic treatment. Teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to their original positions, so retainers are essential for keeping the results of your orthodontic treatment in place. Retainers also help improve your bite and reduce the risk of dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
Another advantage of retainers is that they are relatively easy to care for. Removable retainers should be cleaned regularly with a toothbrush and mild soap, while fixed retainers only require normal brushing and flossing.
Orthodontic retainers are an important dental appliance that help maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment. They come in two primary types, removable and fixed, and are relatively easy to care for. If you are finishing up your orthodontic treatment, your dentist or orthodontist will likely recommend a retainer to ensure your teeth remain straight and healthy. With proper care and regular checkups with your dental professional, retainers can help ensure a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles.