Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, can effectively straighten teeth and improve a patient's smile. However, once the braces or aligners are removed, it is essential to maintain the position of the teeth to ensure that they do not shift back to their original position. Orthodontic retainers are dental appliances designed to keep teeth in their new, desired position.
In this article, we will explore the different types of orthodontic retainers, their uses, and how to care for them.
Types of Orthodontic Retainers
There are several types of orthodontic retainers, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common types of orthodontic retainers include:
Hawley retainers, also known as wire retainers, are a traditional type of retainer made of a wire that wraps around the front teeth and a molded acrylic plate that fits against the roof of the mouth or behind the lower front teeth. The wire is adjustable and can be used to move teeth if necessary. These retainers are durable and long-lasting and are suitable for patients who require minor orthodontic adjustments after treatment. They are, however, the most visible type of retainer.
Essix retainers are clear plastic trays that fit over the teeth like clear aligners. They are almost invisible, making them a popular choice for many patients. Essix retainers are removable and should be worn for at least 22 hours each day, making them easy to clean and care for. However, they can be less durable than other types of retainers and may need to be replaced more frequently.
Bonded retainers, also known as permanent retainers, are wires that are bonded to the back of the teeth, making them invisible from the front. They are a good option for patients who are prone to losing or forgetting removable retainers. Bonded retainers are typically more durable than other types of retainers, but they can be more challenging to clean.
Uses of Orthodontic Retainers
The primary use of orthodontic retainers is to prevent teeth from shifting back to their original position after orthodontic treatment. The length of time a patient must wear a retainer will vary depending on the individual's orthodontic needs and can range from a few months to several years.
During the first few months after orthodontic treatment, the teeth are still prone to shifting. Wearing a retainer consistently during this period is essential to prevent the teeth from moving back to their previous position. After this initial period, most patients can switch to wearing their retainer only at night.
It is essential to continue wearing the retainer for as long as the orthodontist recommends to ensure that the teeth remain in their new position. Failure to wear a retainer as directed can cause teeth to shift back to their previous position, requiring additional orthodontic treatment.
Care of Orthodontic Retainers
To ensure that orthodontic retainers remain effective, it is crucial to care for them properly. Here are some tips for taking care of orthodontic retainers:
- Clean the Retainer Daily
It is essential to clean the retainer daily to prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or denture cleaner to clean the retainer gently. Avoid using hot water, as it can cause the retainer to warp or deform.
- Store the Retainer in Its Case
When the retainer is not in use, it should be stored in its case to protect it from damage or loss.
- Avoid High Temperatures
Avoid exposing the retainer to high temperatures, such as boiling water, hot car dashboards, or direct sunlight, as it can cause the retainer to warp or deform.
- Remove the Retainer When Eating
Remove the retainer when eating or drinking anything other than water. Food particles and sugary drinks can get trapped between the retainer and teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Bring the Retainer to Dental Check-Ups
Bring the retainer to regular dental check-ups to ensure that it remains in good condition. The orthodontist can inspect the retainer and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
Common Issues with Orthodontic Retainers
Despite proper care, issues with orthodontic retainers can arise. Some common problems include:
- Broken or cracked retainers
- Loose or broken wires
- Discomfort or irritation from the retainer
If any of these issues occur, it is essential to consult with an orthodontist promptly. They can assess the situation and determine whether the retainer needs to be repaired or replaced.
Quality Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic retainers are an essential component of orthodontic treatment. They help maintain the position of the teeth after braces or clear aligners are removed, preventing them from shifting back to their original position.
There are several types of orthodontic retainers, each with its advantages and disadvantages. It is crucial to care for orthodontic retainers properly to ensure that they remain effective.
With proper care, orthodontic retainers can help maintain the results of orthodontic treatment and keep your smile looking its best.
If you are in need of orthodontic treatment, including retainers, Idaho Orthodontics is here to help. Our experienced orthodontists provide a range of orthodontic services, including braces, clear aligners, and retainers, to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about our orthodontic services.