Will I Need to Wear a Retainer?
After wearing braces for months or even years, you’re probably looking forward to getting your braces off! That day signals your teeth have been moved to the proper place, your bite has been corrected and you can live braces-free. But achieving straight teeth is a process. The next phase: Wearing a custom-made retainer to keep everything in place. You’ll need one.
Why Wear a Retainer?
Your new smile will naturally try to shift back over time. A retainer keeps your teeth in place after getting your braces removed. It gives your gums and bone time to settle into the new position of your teeth. But braces aren’t the only reason you may need to wear a retainer. We sometimes recommend a retainer to:
- Close gaps in teeth that don’t require braces to fix.
- Correct tongue problems, such as if your tongue slips through your teeth when you speak.
- Help with bruxism, otherwise known as tooth grinding.
- Reduce symptoms associated with jaw problems, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
How Long Will I Have to Wear a Retainer?
When you first get a retainer, you may have to wear it all day and night, removing it only to eat and brush your teeth. Once your teeth begin to stabilize, you may only need to wear it at night. All told, you may need to wear your retainers at night indefinitely. But wearing a retainer beats wearing braces a second or third time.
Do I Have a Choice of Retainers?
There are four basic types of retainers, all of which have pluses and minuses.
Bonded Lingual Retainer
This type of retainer is permanent. You can’t remove it to eat or brush your teeth. It’s a braided stainless steel wire that’s glued to the back (lingual) surfaces of your six front bottom or upper teeth, to prevent your teeth from moving to their original positions.
- Pros: It isn’t noticeable and retains teeth well.
- Cons: Bacteria can build up around the retainer glue, leading to bad breath over time and flossing around the retainer can be challenging. You won’t be able to bite into an apple. You’ll need to cut it up and chew with your back teeth. The retainer can be uncomfortable, too. But dental wax can help.
This clear plastic retainer resembles an Invisalign aligner.
- Pros: It’s practically invisible to others. Also, if your teeth shift back a little, an Essix retainer can shift them back to where they’re supposed to be.
- Cons: An Essix retainer tends to wear after several years and may need to be replaced. Another downside? When wearing it, liquid can get trapped against your teeth.
A Hawley retainer is adjustable and removable. It’s made of bendable metal that goes across the front of your teeth and a clear plastic (acrylic) piece that rests in your mouth. You can remove it when you’re cleaning your teeth, playing a contact sport or eating something hard or sticky, but generally, you’ll need to wear it 24 hours per day.
- Pros: A Hawley retainer is easy to clean and wear. It allows your teeth to touch in a natural way.
- Cons: It’s noticeable. Also, you might lisp until you get used to it. If you don’t wear it consistently and your teeth shift back, it won’t correct them. You’ll need to get braces again.
This clear plastic custom-made retainer is what you’ll wear after completing an Invisalign treatment. Vivera’s proprietary material is 30% stronger than other leading clear retainer materials. It can help maintain your new smile. There’s less chance of the retainer cracking or breaking, too.
We’ll Recommend the Best Type of Retainer for Your Situation.
To maintain results, we may even suggest wearing more than one type of retainer. Whichever type you need, keep up the good work by wearing your retainer daily. That way, you won’t need to wear braces ever again. Talk to us if your retainer bothers you. We can often adjust it so it’s more comfortable.
How Do I Take Care of My Retainer?
No matter which type of retainer you wear, you’ll need to keep it clean. A well-cared-for retainer lasts longer and helps keep your teeth and gums healthy. Here, the dos and don’ts for caring for your retainer.
- Do: Brush the back of your teeth near the gum line and use a floss threader daily to get between your teeth and underneath the wire. Don’t worry. We’ll show you how so you’ll know exactly what to do.
- Don’t: Give up. Cleaning around a lingual retainer takes extra time and effort, but it’s worth it. Brushing and flossing can prevent the build-up of food and plaque, to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Do: Rinse your retainer in cold water every time you take it out and before putting it back in your mouth.
- Don’t: Brush the retainer with toothpaste. Toothpaste can scratch the surface and dull the clear plastic. Don’t put it in hot water either. It can cause your retainer to shrink.
- Do: Clean it every morning and night with a soft toothbrush and warm running water. If you’d prefer, you can clean it with liquid hand soap.
- Don’t: Put it near heat or hot water. Heat can deform your Hawley retainer so that it no longer conforms to your mouth.
- Do: Soak your Invisalign Vivera retainer in Invisalign’s cleaning solution for 15 minutes.
- Don’t: Brush your Vivera retainer with toothpaste. Toothpaste contains abrasives that can scratch your retainer and create nooks that can harbor bacteria. Scratches are gunk magnets!
A Forsus is a device designed to move both top and bottom teeth at the same time to fix alignment issues. Using a spring device it pulls the top teeth toward the back of the head and pushes the jaw outward to help fix overbites and improve alignment.
Similar to a Forsus device, a Herbst appliance helps with an overbite by moving the bottom jaw forward with rods and can have a palate expander attached to the roof of the mouth. It’s often used for younger patients.
Sometimes there isn’t enough space between teeth to fit bands that are sometimes used with braces or appliances. In these cases, we may put in spacers to separate teeth slightly to allow bands or banded appliances to be fitted. Because they move your teeth, they may be slightly uncomfortable.