Retainers are routine devices intended to hold your teeth in place. They’re often prescribed after orthodontic treatment, such as braces, to keep your bite in place after it’s been reshaped or corrected.
Wearing a retainer can be irritating. However this inconvenience is mild when compared to going through having braces all over again.
This article will cover the basics of wearing your retainer. It will also tell you how long you have to wear a retainer. Is it every day? or otherwise. This article will also teach you how to keep your retainer clean.
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Different Types of retainers
The three types of retainers are:
- permanent or bonded retainers
- hawley retainer, and
- clear plastic retainer
Permanent or Bonded retainer
Permanent retainer, also called bonded retainer is fixed to your teeth after your braces are removed to keep them in place for the first few months after treatment.
A bonded retainer is recommended if you need to wear your retainer at all times. This is as a follow-up to orthodontic treatment.
Hawley retainers, also called wire retainers are removable retainers. You can take them out for cleaning. It can also be taken out when eating.
Having a removable retainer doesn’t mean it’s any less important for you to wear your retainer and follow your orthodontist’s instructions.
Clear plastic retainer
The third type of retainer is another removable kind. Clear plastic retainer also called a molded retainer, is designed to fit the new position of your teeth perfectly.
Clear plastic retainers have become popular in recent years because they’re virtually invisible and more likely to be worn. This retainer isn’t the same thing as Invisalign. Invisalign is used to straighten teeth, not prevent them from moving out of position.
As for wear and use, be sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions.
How many hours per day do you need to wear a retainer?
If you have a bonded retainer, you’ll be wearing it all day and all night. But if you have a removable retainer, the rules are a little bit different. You may receive different instructions depending on your specific treatment needs.
The typical guideline for a removable retainer is to wear it full time, except for mealtimes and cleanings, for the first 4 to 6 months after your braces are removed, according to the Canadian Association of Orthodontists.
However, a 2020 survey of orthodontists showed that many recommend that you wear your removable retainer at all times for at least 9 months following the removal of braces.
After several months have passed and you’re cleared by your orthodontist, you may be able to cut back to wearing your retainer every night while you sleep.
How long do you have to wear a retainer after getting your braces removed?
The survey reveals that over 58 percent of orthodontists prefer to prescribe removable retainers after treatment with braces is complete.
Most of the respondents recommend wearing these retainers every day for 9 months and then dropping down to nightly wear after that.
You never stop needing to wear a retainer, though you may need to replace your retainer after a couple of years.
Forty percent of the respondents said that they prescribe permanent lingual retainers that you keep in your mouth for the rest of your life.
No matter what kind of retainer your orthodontist recommends, it’s likely that you’ll be instructed to continue treatment with it indefinitely.
What happens if I don’t wear my retainer?
Throughout your life, your teeth move. If you’ve had braces already, you’re familiar with the fact that the location of your teeth in your mouth is subject to change according to factors such as your age and wearing orthodontic appliances.
Just because your orthodontic treatment is finished doesn’t mean that your teeth are going to stay in place.
If you don’t wear your retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions, your teeth will tend to shift back into their old placement. This is known as relapsing. If you don’t wear your retainer, you may need orthodontic intervention again within 10 years, or even sooner.
If you try to skip wearing your retainer for a couple of weeks or months, your teeth may shift, and your retainer may not fit your teeth properly anymore.
What’s the best way to keep your retainer clean?
Keeping your retainer clean protects your teeth and helps you avoid halitosis. In the case of a removable retainer, it can also extend its life span.
How to keep a bonded retainer clean
A bonded retainer will need to be cleaned as part of your regular dental hygiene routine. Since you can’t remove a fixed retainer, you’ll need to floss your retainer (and the front of your teeth) with a floss threader.
This would require some practice. But after a while, you will be able to do it with ease. Endeavour to angle your toothbrush vertically as well as horizontally to get rid of any debris, plaque buildup or food particles around your fixed retainer.
How to keep a removable retainer clean
Clean your removable retainer with lukewarm water every time you remove it. Rinsing your retainer when it’s still wet with your saliva will keep food from hardening on your retainer.
If your orthodontist recommends it, you can purchase a special soaking product to soak your retainer in between uses.
You may also want to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste to scrub every part of your retainer once per day. Do this carefully, though, as many kinds of toothpaste are abrasive and can scratch your retainer. Consider asking your orthodontist for advice on which kind to use.
If food debris gets trapped in your retainer, use a clean cotton swab dipped in water to clean it out. Don’t boil your retainer in water or try to wash it in the dishwasher.
The best way to maintain the result of your braces is by wearing a retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions.
Instructions differs according to individual needs. While some people need to wear a retainer all day for 4 months, others may have the instruction to wear theirs for 12 months.
Almost all orthodontists instruct that you use some form of retainer each night, indefinitely, after your braces have been removed.
While a lifelong commitment to your retainer may be intimidating, it’s important to preserve the investment of orthodontic treatment.