What is a Retainer?
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that holds the teeth in their new position. It’s custom-made for each patient and no two retainers are the same. Removable retainers are typically made of a plastic body that sits on either the roof of the mouth in a top retainer or tongue side of the mouth in a bottom retainer. A wire is attached to the plastic that wraps around the front of the teeth and gently keeps them in alignment. Sometimes fixed retainers are used, which consist of a thin wire bonded to the backside of the teeth.
How to Wear Your Retainer
When you get your braces off, Aura Orthodontics will have a retainer created just for you. One of our Certified Specialists in Orthodontics, Dr. Sharma, Dr. Koo or Dr. Lin, will give you detailed instructions on how to wear your retainer and for how long. Every patient is different. In some instances, you’ll need to wear it for about four hours a day for the first few months, then at night only for about two years and finally just a few nights a week. More complex cases may require longer retainer use. Though your teeth may be sore for the first few days after wearing your new retainer, this subsides and you’ll barely notice it’s in (unless you skip multiple days!).
Caring for Your Retainer
You’ll want to keep your retainer sparkling clean to avoid odors, germs, food particles and plaque. Ask your doctor for cleaning instructions for your specific retainer and its materials. Some do well if cleaned with mild antibacterial soap and a toothbrush and some can be soaked in denture cleaner.
You’ll take out your removable retainer to eat so be careful not to accidentally throw it away otherwise you could spend an afternoon digging through the trash. Try to avoid hiding it in a napkin or tissue as they tend to be forgotten and tossed. Also, sticking it in your pocket or bag is a no-no because it can break. Your best bet for safe storage when you’re not wearing it is putting it in your retainer case. We offer retainers in a large variety of colors and choosing something bold isn’t only fun but makes the retainer easier to spot.
What Happens if You Don’t Wear Your Retainer
Retainer use is the only way to ensure your teeth stay put permanently. If you don’t wear it, they will shift back into their old positions in time. The retainer helps your teeth learn their new place. In extreme cases, forgoing a retainer can mean you’ll need to braces all over again. To avoid this, follow your orthodontist’s instructions. If you misplace your retainer or forget to wear it and it no longer fits, contact us immediately so we can fit you for a new one.
Wearing your retainer will become second nature and typically you’ll eventually only need to put it in a few nights per week. Retainers are the key to lifelong straight teeth so you can smile with confidence. As always, call our Surrey orthodontics office if you have questions or concerns.