The Role of a Retainer in Keeping Your Teeth Straight

After wearing braces or Invisalign® aligners, the last thing you want is to have your teeth move out of position. That’s where a retainer comes in. A retainer keeps your teeth in their new positions, so you can keep your beautiful new smile. 

In this blog, Joseph Yousefian, DMD, of Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens, and Adults explains more about the role of a retainer in maintaining your straight teeth.

Kinds of retainers

Retainers come in two types: fixed and removable. A fixed retainer is a wire that is cemented to the backs of your teeth, and a removable retainer is a rubber or plastic device that cradles the backs of each tooth.

Fixed retainers are typically worn for several years, especially among younger patients. Removable retainers are usually worn day and night — other than for meals — for the first few months, and then only at night for a period of time.

Which type of retainer you wear will be determined by a few factors that Dr. Yousefian will take into consideration, including the orthodontic issues being corrected and your age. More extensive dental corrections require longer use of a retainer, regardless of your age.

Why retainers are important

The purpose of a retainer is to ensure that your teeth remain in their new positions after having worn braces. Your teeth might shift back into their original positions without a retainer, so it’s extremely important to wear one. 

In fact, teeth are extremely prone to shifting after wearing braces. Some patients only need to wear a retainer on either the top or bottom teeth, but some patients need a retainer on both.

Adjusting to a retainer

Your experience with wearing a retainer is likely to be similar to what it was wearing braces. You may initially feel some pressure on your teeth as well as some mouth soreness, but you should quickly get used to wearing your retainer. However, you should not feel pain from wearing your retainer. Pain is a sign that the retainer needs to be adjusted.

Your speech may be affected in the first few days of wearing your retainer. Don’t worry. This is normal and expected. Try to speak more slowly as you adjust. You may also want to try to practice reading out loud to get used to wearing your retainer.

Don’t be surprised if your mouth also produces more saliva when you begin wearing your retainer. Again, this is normal and expected.

Caring for your retainer

Proper care of your retainer is just as important as wearing it. Plaque, bacteria, and food particles can build up on your retainer, so it’s important to keep it clean.

If your retainer is permanent, make sure to brush and floss at least twice a day, and try to rinse out your mouth with water if you’re not able to brush after eating. 

If you have a removable retainer, brush it with a soft bristle toothbrush at least once a day. Furthermore, you should also soak your retainer in baking soda and water once a week. But you should avoid using boiling water to clean your retainer, as it could damage your retainer.

Wearing a retainer is an important part of the process of creating a beautiful new smile. If you have questions about wearing a retainer, book an appointment online or over the phone with Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens, and Adults today.

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