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After orthodontic treatment, teeth can move back into their original positions due to growth-related factors affecting the gums and tissues of the periodontal ligament.
This is where retainers come in. Retainers are custom-made orthodontic appliances designed to maintain the new position of your teeth after treatment.
Getting older can also affect tooth movement. Because of this risk, wearing retainers is necessary to ensure teeth stay straight long-term.
Once braces are removed, teeth can move back into their old position. Retainers ensure your teeth and gums stay in place after removing braces to prevent relapse and reversal of orthodontic treatment.
Here are some reasons why retainers are important after a teeth straightening treatment:
Relapse is when your teeth return, partially or completely, to their original misaligned positions after successful orthodontic treatment.
Wearing a retainer helps you prevent relapse. They help you maintain the results you have achieved with braces or aligners.
Remember that a small amount of relapse is common if your or your child's teeth were severely misaligned before orthodontic treatment. This is typically nothing to worry about because minor relapse does not affect overall function or esthetics.
If only mild misalignment was present before treatment, relapse should not occur. Patients should also be made aware of their relapse risk before treatment.
Retainers aid in stabilizing the teeth and gums so they can adjust gradually to their new positions. The stability of the teeth ensures that the surrounding tissues can properly adjust and support the new alignment.
Straight teeth contribute to better oral health. This is because cleaning, brushing, and flossing between teeth is easier.
Since wearing retainers help maintain straight teeth, you'll also have an easier time maintaining your oral health.
Typically, orthodontists recommend wearing your retainers nightly for the rest of your life. However, each person may vary slightly. Some may retain their straight teeth by wearing the retainers every other night.
Doing so prevents relapse or movement of the teeth back to their original positions.
Retainers are necessary after teeth straightening treatment to maintain your teeth's alignment.
Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment used to straighten teeth and reposition the jaw. After completing braces treatment, an orthodontist makes a mold of your or your child's newly straightened teeth. Then, a technician makes a fixed or removable retainer to keep your straight smile.
Clear aligners (invisible aligners) are a removable type of orthodontic treatment that correct less severe cases of misaligned or crooked teeth. Invisible aligners are a flexible and convenient alternative to braces.
A new set of aligners is sent to your house or made at a dentist’s office every 1 to 2 weeks and must be worn 22 hours a day. Like braces, retainers are custom-made for each patient after treatment to keep the teeth in alignment.
A few different types of retainers are available, including fixed (metal) and removable (clear) retainers. The type of retainer needed depends on the patient’s risk of relapse, original malocclusion (teeth misalignment), and growth pattern.
How long and how often an orthodontic retainer must be worn is different for everyone. The only way to guarantee teeth positioning is to wear a retainer indefinitely.
Fixed retainers (also called bonded retainer or permanent retainer) consist of a metal wire cemented to the back of your front teeth. The wire typically extends from canine to canine.
You cannot remove a fixed retainer at home. Only your orthodontist can remove the device in-office. Also, fixed retainers do not affect eating or speaking abilities.
After a few days of wear, you should not be able to feel it, though they may be more challenging to keep clean.
Orthodontists usually give patients backup removable retainers in case the fixed retainers fail, or you have a high risk for relapse (when the teeth move back into their original position before treatment).
Removable retainers are clear or metal appliances that only need to be worn at night. Unlike fixed appliances, you can remove these retainers at any time.
Removable retainers are easy to maintain and do not impact your oral health as they can be removed, and you can use your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss without any modifications. Often, they do affect speech when in use.
Clear retainers are the best option for patients who can wear a retainer part-time and do not have a high risk for relapse.
There are three different types of removable retainers, including:
Hawley Retainers, also called wire retainers, consist of a metal wire and an acrylic base. After orthodontic treatment, these retainers keep the six anterior teeth in the correct position.
A Hawley retainer won't interfere with your natural tooth contact and are often more comfortable than clear retainers.
Essix Retainers, also called clear retainers, are made of a slim, clear plastic material. These retainers hold the teeth in place after clear aligner treatment or braces.
Clear retainers can cause more discomfort than Hawley (metal) retainers because your teeth will not touch naturally.
A Vivera retainer is another clear retainer that holds the teeth in place after Invisalign treatment. This retainer is made exclusively for Invisalign patients.
The average cost of orthodontic retainers:
Retainers are orthodontic devices used to maintain the position of teeth after orthodontic treatment. You must regularly wear your retainers so that your teeth don't shift to their original misaligned position.
Different kinds of retainers are available for different needs and preferences. Always consult a dental professional to ensure that the retainers you buy suit you.
Both retainers can interfere with speech when in use and must be removed for eating and cleaning.
Permanent retainers cannot be felt or seen and do not disrupt eating or speaking abilities. However, they are prone to plaque buildup over time, making your oral hygiene routine more challenging.
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