Retainers help keep your teeth straight after wearing braces. After you have had your braces removed, it would be best to get retainers to help keep your teeth straight. The good news is that retainers can help keep your teeth properly aligned for years.
This article will cover everything you need to know about retainers. If, after reading this article, you will still have more questions about retainers, we invite you to contact us at Washington Dental for a free consultation.
Our main aim at Washington Dental is to make your smile more beautiful. Reach out to us if you are looking for a highly experienced and reliable dentist in Lomita.
What are Retainers?
Retainers are devices used in orthodontic treatment to help maintain the position of teeth after braces are removed. They are custom-made for each patient and are designed to fit over the teeth to hold them in place.
Retainers are an important part of orthodontic treatment. After braces have been removed, retainers are used to hold teeth in their new position, preventing them from shifting or relapsing.
How do Retainers Help Teeth?
After braces or other orthodontic procedures, the teeth tend to shift back to their original position, which can undo the effects of the treatment. Retainers work by applying gentle pressure to the teeth, keeping them in their correct position and preventing them from shifting back.
Retainers can help in several ways:
- Preventing relapse – Teeth have a tendency to move back to their original position after orthodontic treatment. Wearing a retainer can help prevent this relapse and keep the teeth in their new position.
- Stabilizing the bite – A retainer can help stabilize the bite after orthodontic treatment, ensuring that the teeth and jaws are properly aligned. This can improve the bite function of the teeth and jaws, as well as prevent dental problems in the future.
- Improving speech – Teeth that are properly aligned can improve speech and pronunciation. A retainer can help maintain the alignment of teeth and improve speech.
- Enhancing aesthetics – Retainers can help maintain the aesthetics of the teeth and smile after orthodontic treatment. By keeping the teeth in their correct position, retainers can prevent relapse and ensure that the smile remains straight and beautiful.
Overall, retainers are an important part of orthodontic treatment and can help ensure the long-term success of the treatment. It is important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions on wearing your retainer, to ensure you get the full benefits of the appliance.
Who Fits Retainers?
Retainers are typically fitted by orthodontists or dentists who specialize in orthodontics. Orthodontists are dental professionals who have completed additional specialized training in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. They are specifically trained in the use of braces, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances to straighten teeth and correct bite problems.
If you need a retainer, your orthodontist or dentist will take impressions of your teeth. Then, he or she will send them to a dental lab to create a customized retainer that fits your mouth perfectly. Once the retainer is ready, your orthodontist or dentist will fit it for you and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that it fits comfortably and effectively.
What are the Types of Retainers?
Overall, the type of retainer that is best for you will depend on your specific orthodontic needs and preferences. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the type of retainer that is right for you based on your individual case.
There are two main types of retainers:
- Fixed retainers
- Removable retainers
Below, we discuss each of these retainers briefly:
Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth using dental cement. The wire is typically placed on the lower front teeth, where the risk of relapse is highest.
Fixed retainers are invisible and require minimal maintenance. This is because they are permanently attached to the teeth. However, they can be difficult to clean, and they may interfere with flossing.
Removable retainers are made of clear plastic or acrylic. They can easily be taken out of the mouth during cleaning or eating. There are several types of removable retainers, including the following:
- Hawley retainers – Hawley retainers consist of a wire that goes across the front of the teeth and is attached to a plastic or acrylic plate that fits in the roof of the mouth. They are adjustable and can be used to move teeth slightly if necessary.
- Essix retainers – Essix retainers are made of clear plastic and fit snugly over the teeth, like a mouthguard. They are virtually invisible and easy to clean, but they may not be as durable as other types of retainers.
- Vivera retainers – Vivera retainers are made of Invisalign. They are quite similar to Essix retainers. Because they are made of Invisalign, they are more durable than other types of retainers.
How are Retainers Fitted?
The process of fitting a retainer usually involves the following steps:
- Taking an impression – The first step in fitting a retainer is to take an impression of the patient’s teeth. This is typically done using a dental putty that is placed in a tray and then inserted into the patient’s mouth. The putty hardens into a mold of the teeth, which is used to create the retainer.
- Creating the retainer – The impression is sent to a dental laboratory where a technician uses it to create the retainer. Depending on the type of retainer, the technician may use a variety of materials, such as wire, acrylic, or plastic to construct the device.
- Fitting the retainer – Once the retainer is ready, the patient returns to the dentist or orthodontist to have it fitted. The retainer may need to be adjusted slightly to ensure a proper fit. In some cases, the retainer may need to be worn continuously for a period of time before it can be adjusted.
- Follow-up appointments – After the retainer is fitted, the patient will typically have follow-up appointments with their dentist or orthodontist to ensure that the retainer is working properly and to monitor the progress of the patient’s teeth. The dentist or orthodontist may also make additional adjustments to the retainer as needed.
Overall, the process of fitting a retainer is a relatively simple one. However, it is important to ensure that the retainer is properly fitted and adjusted to achieve the desired results.
What are the Advantages of Retainers?
Some advantages of retainers include:
- Prevent teeth from shifting – Retainers help prevent teeth from shifting back into their original position, which can occur after orthodontic treatment is complete.
- Improved appearance – Retainers can help maintain the appearance of your teeth and smile by keeping them in the desired position.
- Long-term protection – Retainers provide long-term protection for your teeth, helping prevent problems such as crowding or bite issues from returning.
- Better oral health – By keeping your teeth in the correct position, retainers can help improve your overall oral health, making it easier to clean your teeth and reducing the risk of dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
- Reduced cost – Wearing a retainer can help reduce the need for potential additional orthodontic treatment in the future, potentially saving you time and money in the future.
- Easy to wear – Retainers are typically made of lightweight, comfortable materials that are easy to wear.
- Improved bite and jaw alignment – In addition to straightening teeth, orthodontic treatment can also help improve jaw alignment. Retainers can help maintain this improved alignment, reducing the risk of jaw problems in the future.
- Enhances self-confidence – A straight and beautiful smile can boost self-confidence and improve self-esteem. Retainers help maintain the results of orthodontic treatment, which can enhance the appearance of the teeth and improve self-confidence.
Overall, retainers are an effective way to maintain the results of orthodontic treatment and can provide a range of benefits for your dental health and appearance.
What Happens if You Do Not Wear Retainers?
If you have had orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, wearing retainers is an essential part of maintaining your newly straightened teeth. If you do not wear your retainers are prescribed, several things can happen:
- Teeth can shift – The purpose of retainers is to hold your teeth in their new position. Without them, teeth can shift back to their original location, reversing the progress made during orthodontic treatment.
- Bite problems can arise – As teeth shift, your bite may also change, leading to issues such as uneven wear on teeth, difficulty chewing, or jaw pain.
- Additional treatment may be necessary – If your teeth shift significantly, you may require additional orthodontic treatment to correct the problem, which can be time-consuming and costly.
In summary, wearing retainers as directed by your orthodontist is crucial to maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment and avoiding potential problems down the line.
Also, note that it is essential to follow your orthodontist’s instructions regarding retainer wear, which may involve wearing the retainer all day or only at night. Failing to wear your retainer as recommended could result in the need for additional orthodontic treatment to correct any shifting that has occurred.
Do Retainers Hurt?
It is common for people to experience some discomfort when they first start wearing a retainer, but this usually fades with time. The initial discomfort is usually caused by the pressure the retainer puts on your teeth and the soft tissues of your mouth as your mouth adjusts to the appliance.
Some people may also experience soreness or tenderness in their gums, tongue, or cheeks as a result of the retainer. This is because the retainer can cause minor irritation or rubbing against these tissues, especially if it is a new retainer or if it has not been adjusted properly.
However, any discomfort or pain caused by a retainer should be temporary and generally mild. If you experience significant pain or discomfort that does not improve over time, it is important to speak to your orthodontist or dentist to ensure that your retainer is fitting properly and to rule out any other potential issues.
How Long Will You Have to Wear Retainers?
The duration of wearing retainers can vary depending on the individual circumstances. Typically, orthodontists recommend wearing retainers for a period of time after orthodontic treatment to help maintain the position of the teeth.
The length of time can vary from a few months to a few years, depending on the specific orthodontic case and the recommendation of the orthodontist. It is important to follow the orthodontist’s instructions and wear the retainers as recommended to ensure that the teeth remain in their proper position. Not wearing retainers as recommended can lead to shifting of the teeth and the need for additional orthodontic treatment in the future.
Can Retainers Move Teeth Back to their Aligned Positions?
Retainers are typically used to hold teeth in their current position after orthodontic treatment, rather than to actively move teeth back into their aligned positions.
During orthodontic treatment, braces or clear aligners are used to apply gentle forces to the teeth to gradually move them into the desired positions. Once the teeth have been moved to their ideal positions, retainers are used to hold them in place while the surrounding bone and tissues adapt to their new positions.
If a person’s teeth have shifted out of alignment after orthodontic treatment, it may be necessary to use braces or clear aligners again to move them back into their correct positions. In some cases, a new retainer may be used together with braces or clear aligners to help maintain the corrected position of the teeth once treatment is complete.
Note that it is important to consult with an orthodontist to determine the best course of action for correcting any issues with teeth alignment.
How Do You Take Care of Retainers?
Taking good care of your retainers is important to ensure they remain effective in holding your teeth in their correct positions. Here are some tips for taking care of your retainers:
- Clean your retainers regularly – Clean your retainers daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or denture cleaner. Avoid using hot water, which can warp the retainers, and abrasive toothpaste, which can scratch the surface.
- Rinse your retainers after meals – Rinse your retainers with water after eating to remove any food particles that may have become trapped.
- Store your retainers properly – When you are not wearing your retainers, store them in their case to protect them from damage or loss. Keep the case in a cool, dry place away from heat and direct sunlight.
- Avoid exposing your retainers to heat – Retainers can warp or become misshapen if exposed to heat. Therefore, avoid leaving them in direct sunlight, hot water, or near a heat source.
- Handle your retainers with care – Retainers can break or become damaged if dropped or mishandled. Therefore, you should handle them gently and carefully.
- Do not chew on your retainers – Chewing on your retainers can cause them to crack or become misshapen, so avoid this behavior.
- Visit your orthodontist regularly – Visit your orthodontist for regular check-ups to ensure that your retainers are still fitting properly and holding your teeth in their correct positions.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your retainers remain effective in holding your teeth in their correct positions and that they last as long as possible.
What if your Retainer Breaks?
If your retainer breaks, you should contact your orthodontist or dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, you should stop wearing the broken retainer to avoid causing any further damage or discomfort.
Your orthodontist or dentist will examine the retainer and determine if it can be repaired or if you need a replacement. Depending on the severity of the break, they may be able to fix the retainer on the spot or you may need to wait a few days for a replacement retainer to be made.
What if you Lose your Retainer?
If you lose your retainer, you should contact your orthodontist or dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. Your orthodontist or dentist will likely recommend getting a replacement retainer to ensure that your teeth do not shift out of their current position.
When you visit your orthodontist or dentist to get a replacement retainer, they will likely take new impressions of your teeth to create a new retainer that fits properly. The process of getting a replacement retainer may take a few days or weeks depending on the type of retainer and the availability of the dental lab.
In the meantime, it is important to continue practicing good oral hygiene. Also, avoid eating hard or sticky foods that could damage your teeth.
How Much Do Retainers Cost?
The cost of retainers can vary depending on several factors, including the type of retainer and the individual orthodontist or dentist’s fees.
In general, traditional Hawley retainers, which are made of acrylic and wire, can cost anywhere from $150 - to $500 per retainer. Clear plastic retainers, such as Essix retainers, can cost between $200 - $600 per retainer.
If your retainer needs to be repaired or replaced due to damage or loss, the cost may also vary depending on the severity of the damage and the type of retainer you have. Your dental insurance may cover some or all of the cost of your retainer or replacement, depending on your plan and the reason for replacement.
It is important to talk to your orthodontist or dentist about the cost of retainers and any associated fees before getting one. They can help you understand the cost and any financing options that may be available to you.
Can Retainers Straighten Your Teeth?
While retainers can help prevent teeth from shifting out of place, they are not typically used to straighten teeth on their own. However, some types of retainers, such as clear aligner retainers, may have the ability to gradually shift teeth into a straighter position over time. This is because clear aligner retainers are designed to apply gentle, consistent pressure to the teeth, similar to traditional clear aligners.
If you are interested in straightening your teeth, it is best to consult with an orthodontist who can evaluate your specific needs and recommend the best treatment options for you. In some cases, braces or clear aligners may be necessary to achieve the desired results.
What should you Do if your Retainer No Longer Fits?
If your retainer no longer fits properly, it is important to see your orthodontist as soon as possible. A poorly fitting retainer can cause your teeth to shift, undoing the progress you have made with orthodontic treatment.
When you visit your orthodontist, they will evaluate your retainer and your teeth to determine the cause of the problem. In some cases, the retainer may need to be adjusted or repaired. In other cases, a new retainer may be needed.
Note that attempting to adjust or repair the retainer yourself can cause further damage and may even render the retainer completely ineffective. Therefore, it is best to seek professional help from your orthodontist to ensure that your teeth remain in their proper position.
Do Retainers Smell?
Retainers can develop an unpleasant odor if they are not cleaned regularly. This is because bacteria can build up on the surface of the retainer, especially if it is not cleaned after each use. The bacteria can produce a foul smell, similar to bad breath.
To prevent your retainer from developing an odor, it is important to clean it regularly. You should follow the instructions provided by your orthodontist for cleaning and maintaining your retainer. Typically, this involves rinsing it with water after each use, brushing it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or retainer cleaner, and soaking it in a specialized cleaning solution.
If you notice that your retainer has developed an odor, it is important to clean it thoroughly as soon as possible. You may also want to consider replacing the retainer or having it professionally cleaned by your orthodontist.
Find an Orthodontist Near Me
Do not hesitate to contact us at Washington Dental if you are looking for an orthodontist in Lomita. Our main goal is to make your smile more beautiful.
Call us today at 310-326-5183 for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about retainers.