The day has finally arrived and you’re about to get your braces taken off. A wave of excitement fills you up as you smile into the mirror for the first time, and you see the results.
However, the journey has only started. Your life after braces is about to begin, and you need to prepare to wear your retainer.
Retainers come with a whole different set of responsibilities than your braces. But never fear! Our talented professionals at Afdent are here to walk you through everything you need to know about your new dental adventure.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A RETAINER?
The purpose of a retainer is to maintain the hard work done by your braces. No matter your age, your teeth will continue to move after your braces have been removed. Your retainer acts as, well, a retainer to keep them in the place your braces have moved them to.
Retainers come in two different types: removable and permanent.
Removable retainers can be made from acrylic with wires, or a clear, plastic retainer molded to your teeth.
Permanent retainers are custom-fit wires installed (and removed) by your Afdent orthodontist.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WEAR A RETAINER?
Wearing a retainer is a lifetime commitment, but that doesn’t mean you need to wear it all day, every day. Each type of retainer, and each person, is different in their needs.
Permanent retainers are meant to be fixed in your mouth and not removed.
Removable retainers, on the other hand, are a much different story. Your Afdent orthodontic team will give you instructions on when and how long to wear your removable retainer. But, in general, you can expect to wear it full-time for 4 to 6 months (except during meals) and then in the evenings and while sleeping thereafter.
Remember, if you’re not wearing your retainer in your mouth, it’s not doing its job.
WHAT IF I DON’T WEAR MY RETAINER?
If you’ve made it this far on the journey, you know that your teeth can, and will, move throughout your life.
Just because you’ve had braces doesn’t mean that this process stops. If you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth will begin to shift back to their original positions, and you may need orthodontics again.
Your teeth can easily shift out of place and your retainer will no longer fit even if you stop wearing it for as little as a few weeks or months. If your retainer no longer fits properly or becomes lost, contact Afdent immediately.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
Similar to your braces, you should expect some pressure being exerted against your teeth and some discomfort in your mouth as it adjusts to the device.
Retainers also occasionally need adjustment, so if it’s causing you pain you should reach out to your orthodontist immediately.
Your speech may also be affected while you’re wearing your retainer, especially while you’re first becoming accustomed to it being in your mouth.
HOW DO I CARE FOR MY RETAINER?
If your retainer is properly cared for it can last for years. Here are a few tips to ensure you maximize the lifespan of your orthodontic device.
- Brush and floss your retainer regularly. Your retainer will easily harbor plaque, food particles, and bacteria (a byproduct of being in your mouth all day) and needs regular cleaning. Use a soft-bristle brush and non-abrasive toothpaste to clean your retainer.
- Rinse your retainer with warm water each time you remove it from your mouth to prevent it from drying out and cracking.
- Always store your retainer in its case when you remove it from your mouth. If you put it in a napkin, trust us when we say it’s going to wind up thrown in the trash eventually.
- Disinfect your retainer at least once a week to prevent bacteria buildup. We can help you find the best disinfectant solution for you.
VISIT AFDENT PATIENT FRIENDLY DENTISTRY
It’s a whole new feeling to wear a retainer. But keeping your smile perfect after braces is an important part of what we do at Afdent. We’re here to give you the help and guidance you need on the next leg of your orthodontic journey.
Contact our offices today for more information with your orthodontic questions.