Is it necessary to wear retainers after braces? Yes, it certainly is. Retainers hold the teeth in their desired position after the braces are removed. Here at Smith Orthodontics, we use mainly clear retainers. Occasionally, we will need to use the retainers most people recognize that are made of a combination of plastic and metal. The plastic part fits behind your teeth against the soft tissues of the roof of your mouth and gums. The metal pieces go in front of or around your teeth.
Here’s what you need to know about wearing and caring for your retainers after getting your braces removed.
How often should you wear your retainers?
Retainers are removable, giving you the option of how often you wear them. But you should always follow your orthodontist’s instructions for retainer wear. For the first few months, after getting your braces off, you should wear your retainers all the time, only taking them out to eat and brush your teeth. This is the time period where your teeth are most likely to revert back to their previous position, so retainers are important.
Once your teeth have had time to settle into their new places, you can start to wear your retainers at night only. Don’t switch to nights until your orthodontist advises you to do so. If your retainers feel tight at the end of the day, go back to wearing them all the time for about a week, and then try nights again. It will take some patients’ teeth longer than others to settle in, so the amount of time you need to wear your retainers is not an exact science.
Should you ever stop wearing your retainers?
Most orthodontists recommend wearing your retainers at night for the rest of your life to keep your teeth from shifting out of place. After a few years you may be able to wear them every other night or skip a few nights in a row and find that they still fit. You can experiment to find out what works for you. But don’t go too long without wearing them or you may find that they no longer fit, which indicates that your teeth have shifted.
What happens if you don’t wear your retainers?
There is a very good chance that your teeth will revert back to their old positions if you don’t wear your retainers. The months or years you spent on treatment, not to mention the money, will be wasted. You may even have to get your braces put back on again, which no one wants. So be responsible about retainer wear and follow your orthodontist’s instructions.
How to take care of your retainers
Retainers, like other removable appliances, must be cared for responsibly. Whenever you take them out, store them in the case your orthodontist gives you. Don’t ever wrap them in a tissue or napkin, which is likely to get thrown away. Avoid setting them on your plate or food tray while eating, as they are likely to be thrown away or washed down the drain or garbage disposal. If you have pets be sure to keep your retainers in the case because animals like to chew them. A replacement retainer will cost at least $175..
To clean them, brush your retainers with your toothbrush every morning and night when you brush your teeth. Don’t soak them mouthwash or denture cleaner that is not designed for retainers. When you visit your orthodontist for your regular checkups, your orthodontist may have a retainer cleaning system they can use to clean them for you.
Can I take my retainers out to play sports or an instrument?
Yes, it is a good idea to take out your retainers when you are playing a sport, especially if you will be wearing a sports mouthguard. Store them in the case while you are not wearing them and put them back in as soon as your practice or game is over.
Some patients find that retainers make it difficult to play some musical instruments that are played by mouth. As with the sports, store them in the case and put them back in as soon as you are done practicing or performing.
Still Have Questions? Ask Smith Orthodontics
If you still have more questions about retainers or braces, Smith Orthodontics is here to help. We provide a full range of orthodontic services for patients of all ages and we are available to answer any questions you may have.