Most patients spend 18-24 months with their orthodontic appliances. That’s about 78-104 weeks of your life with braces, and time that you don’t want to have wasted. The worst thing that can happen after getting your braces off is that your teeth go crooked once more. This can happen within the first month if you’re not careful. Luckily, dentists know this and we provide our patients with either removable retainers or permanent ones. See why retainers are so important for maintaining a straight smile for life and why you need one!
Finishing Up with Braces
If you have gotten to the point in your orthodontic treatment that you need a retainer, congratulations! It has taken you 18-24 months to get that beautiful, straight smile you’ve wanted. No matter if you had lingual, ceramic, or metal braces, or if you opted for Invisalign treatment, you will still need an orthodontic appliance to keep your teeth straight. This isn’t something you want to wait on either, as studies show that your teeth start shifting back to their crooked state within the first month of getting braces off.
When our patients end their time with braces, we immediately prep them for either a removable or a permanent retainer. There are pros and cons to each of these types of retainers, but the bottom line is, you need one! A retainer is exactly what it sounds like; it “retains” your straight smile. When you wear it (usually at night), your smile won’t shift or become crooked. We take an impression of your teeth as soon as your braces come off, which we then send to our lab. You will have a retainer custom-made to fit your newly-straightened teeth that will keep them in that position for decades to come.
You may need both a bottom retainer and a top one, or you might just need one. Some dentists only require a bottom retainer, as the bottom teeth tend to keep the top teeth in place. It all depends on the patient. As we mentioned, there are two types of retainers: removable and permanent.
- Removable – These are the classic retainer pieces that most people think of when they think “retainer”. When we make impressions of your teeth, we go back and use those impressions to make retainer pieces for your top and bottom jaw. Once they are done, you will come into the office and try out your new retainers. Wear them every day during the night and clean them when you take them out in the morning. Only use cleaning products that are safe for mouth retainers and never use hot water when cleaning.
- Permanent – This is also a “fixed” retainer because it is bonded to your teeth and set in place. Much like your braces (if you chose ceramic, lingual or traditional metal), we will bond metal parts to your teeth. However, these metal parts will be placed on the back of your teeth instead of the front. You can choose to have a metal bar that goes across the back teeth or you can choose small metal wires that will bond each individual tooth to the one next to it. If you choose the second, you will have the bottom 6 teeth connected, with bonding cement on each of the backs of those 6 teeth. However, the metal and bonding is small, so it won’t take up very much room in your mouth. You may not even notice it! Both the bar and series of small wires work to keep your bottom teeth in place, which will keep your top in place.
Which One Is Right for You?
Our patients can choose if they want to have a removable or permanent retainer. One might not be right for a patient depending on age and daily habits. If you often lose things (such as car keys or your phone), then you might want to choose a permanent retainer. These stay in place 100% of the time and because of that, you can never lose them. Plus, they retain your teeth around the clock, instead of only at night (like a removable retainer). Permanent retainers also aren’t visible like removable retainers are because they are attached behind your teeth.
A removable retainer will have visible bars that others will be able to see in your mouth when you show your teeth. This generally isn’t a problem, as most people wear theirs at night. If you already struggle with brushing and flossing your teeth, you might opt for a removable retainer, as flossing can be more difficult with a permanent retainer. However, both options are great for all our patients. You simply have to choose which one fits you best.
Healthy Life, Healthy Mouth
We would love every single one of our patients to have a straight smile many decades from now. If you wear your retainer like you should, or continually renew your permanent ones, you can count on keeping that straight smile. However, you also want to keep your smile healthy and free of disease throughout all those decades. After all, there is no point in striving for a straight smile if you don’t have any teeth!
No matter if you are 9 or 90, you have to keep up on proper oral hygiene practices if you want to have a healthy, beautiful smile. Brush and floss your teeth every single day, making sure to brush multiple times a day. Eat nutritious foods and cut down on the sugar to reduce your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Also, clean your retainer every day so that it stays strong and durable for many years. If you need a new retainer, or are interested in a permanent retainer option, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!