While it is true that your treatment may be finished, your teeth and jaw ligaments still need time to settle into their new positions. A retainer ensures that your teeth will maintain their new alignment.
A retainer is an oral appliance that, depending on your needs, is often made of plastic or acrylic. You will wear it as directed by our orthodontists. Some people need to wear a retainer for a period of months, others may need to wear one while they sleep for the rest of their lives. There are three basic types of retainers:
- Clear retainers are often used following a treatment such as Invisalign® clear aligners and are made of clear plastic; however, they may be used after other types of treatments. Because of their clarity, they are a more aesthetic option, but they may not be as durable as other types of appliances.
- Fixed retainers are permanently bonded to the back of the teeth. This type of retainer can only be removed by our dentists or another dental professional.
- Hawley retainers are the most common type of retainer. They are made of acrylic or plastic and fit against the roof of the mouth or along the inside of the lower teeth. The retainer has metal clasps that attach to certain teeth and a wire that runs along the front of the teeth to help maintain alignment.
You should gently brush your retainer every day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a nonabrasive toothpaste. Some whitening toothpastes may be too abrasive for your retainer. Retainers can be very expensive to replace, and when you are not wearing yours, you should keep it its case. If you have had a fixed retainer placed, our orthodontists and team will show you how to brush and floss to keep it and your smile clean. If you break or lose your retainer, contact our office as soon as possible.