You've done your time, your teeth are impeccably straight, and your braces can come off! You're free!
...Now, what's this about a retainer?
Most of our patients who've spent time in braces need to wear a retainer after their braces are removed. A retainer is a small, curved piece of plastic and metal that we custom-create to fit inside your mouth. Its job is to hold your teeth in their new position.
Why Do I Need a Retainer?
Imagine you've built a sandcastle on the beach. You spent a lot of time on that sandcastle, and you want to protect it so you and your friends can admire your creation. How do you keep that castle from falling down? You take special precaution to build it far away from any water (or tricky big brothers) that could rush in and ruin all your hard work.
It's the same thing with your teeth. We've worked together for months – years, maybe – to bring your teeth into perfect alignment, and we don't want to see them lapse back into crookedness. So we take a special precaution to enforce their new position. And that special precaution is wearing a retainer.
When – And For How Long – Should I Wear My Retainer?
Just like everyone's teeth are different, everyone has different schedules and timelines for wearing a retainer. When we remove your braces and create your very own special retainer, we will let you know how often you need to wear it. We will also let you know how long you need to wear it. Research has shown that teeth often get progressively more crooked with age, so the longer you wear your retainer, the better a chance you have of keeping that perfect smile. The important thing is to carefully follow our instructions, because we have designed your retainer schedule based on exactly what your teeth need to stay in place.
Will It Feel Weird?
Remember back when you first got braces and your mouth felt a little different? Then once you got used to them, you forgot they were there. You learned how to talk with braces, you learned how to eat with braces, you learned how to smile with braces. You will do the same thing with a retainer, and soon you'll forget it's there. And because a retainer takes up less space in your mouth than braces, it'll be even easier this time.
Will It Look Weird?
Quite the contrary: we can make retainers in many different colors and sometimes we can even put special pictures on them. You get to choose how you want it to look.
How Do I Take Care of My Retainer?
It's easy to take care of your retainer. When you take it out to brush your teeth, simply clean it with your toothbrush and toothpaste. And when you are not wearing your retainer, be sure to keep it in its plastic case to avoid damaging it.
Are All Retainers Removable?
Sometimes we place a "bonded" or permanently fixed retainer on your lower front teeth. These teeth are the most prone to becoming crooked again, so having a retainer you can't lose or remove often pays off in a big way. If you have a bonded retainer, make sure to brush it thoroughly and floss between the teeth it holds straight daily.
What If I Lose My Retainer?
Because a retainer can be an expensive item, it's best to avoid losing one. The most common way that retainers are lost is during a meal. A patient removes his retainer to eat, wraps it in a napkin, and puts it on his lunch tray in the cafeteria – then promptly forgets it's there. Where does it end up? You guessed it: in the garbage. Ew! Trust us, you don't want to dig through cafeteria garbage. So don't lose track of your retainer.
What If My Retainer Breaks?
If your retainer breaks or is lost, please call us immediately so we can create a replacement for you. Going without your retainer, even for a few days, can affect the alignment of your teeth.