Yes, You Need a Retainer After Braces

April 2, 2020

Person placing their retainer after braces in mouthOnce you complete the main part of your orthodontic journey, you’ll embark on maintaining those beautiful results. Retainers after metal or invisible braces are an important part in keeping your teeth aligned because teeth will want to move back to their original spots, called mesial drift.

What is a Retainer?

Retainers are devices that keep your teeth in their new positions. They’re custom-made by your orthodontist by taking a mold of your new smile. Retainers are made from wire or acrylic material and retain all the hard work you’ve put in these past few years. You have two retainer options to choose from: Fixed and Removable.

Types of Retainers After Braces

Fixed Retainers
With a fixed retainer, a thin wire is placed in the back of the upper or lower teeth. This wire is bonded with cement so it’ll stay put, which means reliable results when maintaining straight teeth. Though these retainers keep your teeth in position, they’re a bit trickier to clean. You’ll need a floss threader like the one used to floss braces.

Removable Retainers
Like the name suggests, removable retainers can be taken out, especially when eating and brushing teeth. These have a wire that goes along the front of teeth and held in place by an acrylic material with wire hooks. Just be sure you don’t leave it behind when you take it out. Many people lose removable retainers when they wrap them in paper towels at meal time that get thrown away.

How Long Do You Wear a Retainer After Braces?

You can expect your orthodontist to recommend retainer-wear for a few years after braces are removed. Here’s a typical removable retainer timeline:

3-6 months
You’ll be wearing your retainers for about 22 hours a day during this early time. Only take your retainers out when eating or brushing your teeth. Don’t forget to clean your retainer too.

2 years
Usually around this time, your orthodontist will recommend you wear retainers only at night.

3 years
You’re almost there! The orthodontist might say you don’t have to wear your retainers every night, but maybe just a few nights a week. Some patients report that they wear theirs every other night. Whatever works best for your schedule and your orthodontists’ recommendation.

For fixed retainers, people usually keep them in place for a few years. With younger people, fixed retainers are recommended to stay put throughout their teens and twenties as their jaws continue developing.

How to Take Care of Retainers

Regular maintenance and cleaning is essential for retainers. For those with fixed retainers, routine dental visits are a great way to keep everything clean. Dental hygienists will check for cavities, clean straight teeth, and inspect your retainer. They’ll also clear away any plaque and tartar that has developed in the supporting teeth. In the meantime, continue to floss properly using a floss threader and brush regularly.

For those with removable retainers, don’t use toothpaste to clean them. It’ll dull the acrylic and encourage bacteria to grow. Instead, soak retainers in denture cleaning tablets or a vinegar and water mixture and gently scrub with a soft toothbrush.

Retainers are Necessary After Braces

Unfortunately, you have to wear your retainers after getting your braces off. Going without a retainer means your teeth will shift a lot, erasing everything your braces did. We get it. Having anything detract from your pearly white, straight smile is embarrassing and frustrating. But hold out a little longer so that you can reap the benefits of this process without worrying about crooked teeth returning.

Retainers after braces not only preserve your straight smile, but they also make sure you don’t have to see an orthodontist again. Save your teeth and your money by committing to wearing your retainer as directed. Don’t give up now!

If you’re looking to get straighter teeth, we can help. Call us today at (720) 439-2984 to get started.