You've worked hard for your beautiful smile so you need to keep it that way!
Finally, your appliances have been removed and your smile is beautiful, straight, and - best of all--, metal- or aligner-free. However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed. To keep your smile looking its best, you need to wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize the results. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential shifting in tooth position. They are used after orthodontic treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new position of your teeth.
Types of Retainers
Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.
- Aligner-style retainers, or Essix retainers, look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This clear retainer may fit over the entire arch of your teeth, or only from canine to canine (clip-on retainer). It is produced from a mold of your newly aligned teeth.
- Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top teeth. Fixed retainers are only placed on a patient for a specific reason - such as a gap that will not stay closed with consistent retainer wear - and a night time retainer must be worn over the fixed retainer. Due to hygiene concerns, fixed retainers should be removed after 5 years.
Pros and Cons
- Removable retainers can be taken out for eating and hygiene routines.
- Removable retainers can get lost easily, so remember to keep yours in the case whenever you remove it to eat or brush.
- Teeth with fixed retainers require a little extra attention to remove tartar while flossing. Patients with fixed retainers often must use floss threaders to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the retainer and the teeth.