Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
Just because you’re done with your orthodontic treatment doesn’t mean you’re finished looking after your smile. Retainers are included in your orthodontic treatment. Retainers “retain” the position of your teeth and you will need to wear them for the rest of your life. The most important time to wear retainers is right after your braces come off. The reason for this is that the bones in your jaw need time to solidify around the position that your teeth have been positioned in. Your teeth can still move years after your braces have been removed. For the first six months, you’ll need to wear your retainer very consistently. The amount of time you wear it can decrease after that and depends on your individual circumstances and your orthodontist’s recommendation. Just like your toothbrush needs replacing, so does a retainer.
PROS & CONS OF BONDED RETAINERS
Bonded retainers are permanent ones where wires are bonded to the back of your teeth. The material used to bond the wire can start to wear down over time with eating, brushing and flossing. Bonded retainers on the bottom teeth should last longer than bonded retainers on the top teeth. In fact, up to three years longer as the top part of your mouth sees less action that the lower. The wires can start to get loose without you even knowing. Your dentist should check it each time you go in for a checkup to make sure it’s still bonded well. Your teeth are harder to clean with bonded retainers. Having the wires permanently bonded to your teeth may start to bother you after enough time has passed. You can have your orthodontist remove them and switch to removable ones if that would suit you better.
REMOVABLE RETAINERS PROS & CONS
The two types of retainers that can be removed are the Essix and the Hawley. The Essix retainer(s) are one piece of clear molded plastic that fit right over your teeth and the Hawley has an acrylic piece that fits on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth with wires that protrude from it and sit around the front of the teeth. Both of these retainers will start to get yucky and begin to wear out. The wires in the Hawley retainer can break off and the Essix retainers can change shape in hot water. As they wear out they might not fit as well as they used too. The Essix retainers last from six months to a few years with the Hawley lasting longer, five to ten years. There is also a Vivera retainer made by Invisalign and are similar to the Essix retainer. They are customized more closely to the patient’s bite and you can have fresh ones on hand as they’re sold through a subscription service.
Money and time went in to getting that beautiful smile so take care of it. If you want your teeth to stay in place, you’ll need to be diligent in wearing your retainer. It doesn’t matter which retainer you end up deciding on, they will need to be checked from time to time and be replaced. Have a dental professional make sure it’s fitting the way it should to make sure your smile always looks it’s best! Contact the professionals at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics today.