Once braces are off, wire and acrylic retainers are worn to complete orthodontic treatment. All the hard work and expenses put into braces can be lost if retainers are not worn properly to settle the teeth into their new positions.
Retainers are small devices that are placed in a patient’s mouth behind his/her teeth in order to re-align or maintain a specific position of the teeth. There are different types of retainers, such as removable versus a fixed retainer. They are typically made from clear plastic or wires.
They are used in order to help prevent the teeth from falling back to their original position by holding teeth in a certain position while allowing surrounding gums and bone to adjust once braces are removed. After braces, your bones might require some additional time to adapt to the new shape of your mouth, and they need something to keep everything stable while slowly repositioning to match straighter teeth. Retainers can help to ensure that a patient’s straightened teeth will last over the long term.
How long might you expect to wear your post-braces retainer? Often a patient will be required to wear the retainer at all times except when eating for a period determined by the orthodontist and then after this period it may only be necessary to wear it at night. Beyond that, many patients can slowly phase out their retainer entirely. Of course, your specific retainer schedule will depend on your unique circumstances. An orthodontist will provide you with the best instructions. You should keep your retainer clean by brushing it with a mild soap or using denture tablets. If you lose or break your retainer it’s important to get another one as soon as possible or your teeth may start moving back to their original position.
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