As many parents come to learn once their child’s braces are off, getting a young person to wear their retainer as instructed — and keeping it out of the cafeteria trash can — can be quite a challenge. Retainers, which are typically used during the final phase of orthodontic treatment, are essential for keeping newly straightened teeth in place. At Iris Erdell, DDS, MS Orthodontist in Walnut Creek, California, Dr. Erdell offers a complete range of custom retainers to ensure proper alignment following orthodontic work. To learn more, call or book your appointment online today.
The main goal of any type of orthodontic work is to straighten your teeth, close any gaps, eliminate crowding, and give you a properly aligned bite. Although your teeth and smile may look amazing, your orthodontic treatment does not end when your braces come off.
Your teeth are relatively unstable for a certain length of time following the removal of your braces. That’s because wearing braces stretches and moves the ligament fiber attachments that extend from the roots of your teeth into the bone surrounding your teeth. These fibers will begin to pull your teeth back into their original position if you don’t do something to retain their new position.
That is where retainers come into play: They help maintain the new alignment of your teeth until your jawbone and teeth are stable once again.
There are several different types of retainer appliances available, including:
This type of retainer has a full palatal plate made of acrylic and a wire that goes across the front of your teeth. The acrylic plate is molded to fit your mouth perfectly, and the wires are fully adjustable. Hawley retainers are easy to clean, long-lasting and can be adjusted.
A clear retainer is made of molded clear plastic. People who choose clear retainers want something less noticeable than a traditional Hawley retainer, however, these retainers typically are not as long lasting as Hawley retainers. Clear retainers can help protect your teeth if you clench or grind them.
This type of retainer, which is available in various forms and styles, is designed to provide the kind of circumferential retention that allows your teeth to settle into their new position after braces. They are very beneficial for closing minor gaps.
This “permanent” retainer is bonded or glued, to the back of your teeth so it stays in your mouth all the time. They retain teeth very well, but flossing with them is a little trickier, which makes them a perfect choice for good brushers.
Most patients receive their retainers about one week after their braces are removed. First, Dr. Erdell must take an impression of your new bite so your retainer can be custom-made in a lab.
Although any tooth movement is usually insignificant during this short wait time, your retainer can help re-establish proper alignment if you have experienced any minor shifting. When your retainer arrives, Dr. Erdell makes any necessary adjustments to the acrylic and the wires to ensure a precise fit.
Once you receive your retainer, it is very important that you wear it as directed. Not wearing your retainer as Dr. Erdell recommends increases the risk that your teeth will shift and your retainer will no longer fit properly.