Is it finally your big moment? Are you finished with orthodontic treatment and getting ready to enjoy the rest of your life without braces? We couldn’t be happier for you! But there are a few things you should know before you sail into the sunset.
Orthodontic treatment sets you up for success with beautifully aligned and healthy teeth. But it’s up to you to keep it that way by wearing your retainer and keeping it clean and safe for life. It’s a big responsibility, but with a little help from your friends at Timock Family Orthodontics, you’ll be empowered and ready to go! Keep reading to learn more about what we recommend for patients who are learning how to live with their retainers.
How Long Will You Need to Wear a Retainer?
The first thing that you need to know is that orthodontic care is a life-long commitment. Yes, that means that you should be wearing your retainer for the rest of your life. It sounds crazy, especially if you are a kid or young teen getting your braces off. But the truth is that continuing to keep your teeth aligned and healthy will be a huge part of supporting you as you age more comfortably. Don’t shirk your responsibilities now, and enjoy gorgeous, healthy teeth for a lifetime.
What Retainers Do For Your Teeth
Retainers do a few important things to maintain your teeth, with factors that impact you as soon as the treatment is finished, some continuing over the next few years, and some will impact you even as you age.
First things first, wearing a retainer when you first finish your treatment means allowing your teeth to rest and rebuild bone mass. During your treatment, the teeth actually decrease their density to make it easier to shift around. When your treatment first ends, it is essential that your teeth are kept still or else they would continue shifting. Holding them in place with a retainer that is worn 24/7 except when eating, will allow them to anchor again and rebuild their density.
Of course, you have probably heard horror stories about patients coming back a few years after finishing treatment and needing to start from scratch. This does happen when patients neglect to wear their retainer as instructed and teeth shift back into old patterns. It really is that important to wear your retainer, just to maintain your smile and keep your teeth healthy.
Finally, one of the less-discussed topics when it comes to aging and teeth is physiological drift. As we age, our mouth can sometimes narrow, causing teeth to shift and result in crowding and tooth loss. Wearing a retainer can help slow or even prevent this normal aging process and keep your teeth in great shape as you get older.
Types of Retainers
Now, let’s get into the different kinds of retainers and how to wear and/or care for them! Which kind of retainer you use will be based on Dr. Timock’s recommendation for what will support your unique needs.
Hawley & Essix Retainers
Hawley and Essix retainers are the two most common types of removable retainers, meaning you put them in and take them out depending on what Dr. Timock recommends and if you are eating or drinking. As we mentioned above, in the early days after treatment is over, you will likely need to wear your removal retainers at all times, and then slowly taper off till you are only wearing them at night.
Hawley retainers are made from acrylic and metal, while Essix retainers are made from clear plastic. They are both effective at holding your teeth in place, and they both need to be cleaned at least once every day. We recommend scrubbing them with a toothbrush and a gentle cleanser like hand soap or mouthwash. After a thorough scrub and rinse, your retainers should be clean and ready to go.
Don’t forget to deep clean them every once in a while with a solution or soak, like Polident. This should make it easier to scrub away any buildup or gunk that collects over time.
Fixed retainers are retainers that are secured onto the back of your teeth. A metal wire is stretched across your teeth and secured in place so that your teeth won’t shift, and it can stay in your mouth indefinitely!
It’s easy to clean and impossible to forget or lose, so it’s a convenient option for those reasons! When brushing, just take some extra care to go around and under the wires, and use a floss threader to pull floss underneath the wire and then floss normally. Do be cautious of crunchy foods that could dislodge it!
Join the Family!
We think it is high time for you to join us at Timock Family Orthodontics to create the smile of your dreams. We are proud of the smile transformations we have seen in our office over the years, and we want you to be next! Give us a call at one of our offices in Fort Collins or Windsor, and ask about the free consult appointment. We want to set you up for success for a happy, healthier smile.