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Retainers Rule: Keeping Your Smile Aligned After Braces

We all know that braces are essential to getting the perfect smile you’ve always dreamed of.

However, while they’re a critical step to healthier smiles and overall oral health, they’re only half the battle. The other half consists of ensuring that your teeth stay aligned after your braces are removal.

This is where retainers come in.

Retainers are more than just toned-down and removable braces — they play an essential role in maintaining the alignment of your teeth for the long haul.

Let’s find out more about retainers and how they keep your teeth straight for years to come.

The Purposes of Retainers

Retainers are not just an afterthought in your orthodontic treatment, they’re a vital component in maintaining the results you’ve worked hard to achieve with braces.

Here are the main reasons why wearing your retainer is important.

Allows Bone to Rebuild

When your braces are removed, your teeth may be in their new positions, but the surrounding bone structure is still adjusting.

Retainers help to stabilize your teeth in their new positions, giving the bone time to rebuild and strengthen around them. This process is crucial because, without the support of a retainer, your teeth can start to shift back to their original positions.

In short, not having a retainer undoes all the progress made during your orthodontic treatment. Without one, you may need further orthodontic treatment or, worse, return to having braces.

Maintain New Teeth Positions

Even after the bone has been rebuilt, your teeth are at the mercy of continuous forces like chewing and natural aging. All of these can influence your teeth’s positions.

A retainer helps to counter these forces by keeping your teeth in their newly aligned positions. This is especially important in the months and years following the removal of braces, as this is when teeth are most likely to shift.

Types of Retainers

There are several types of retainers available, each with its own benefits.

Understanding the differences can help you and your orthodontist choose the best option for your needs.

Hawley Retainers

Hawleys are among the most recognizable types of retainers.

Made of a combination of acrylic and metal wires, they’re adjustable and durable. One of their main advantages is that they can be easily adjusted if minor movements are needed.

Essix Retainers

Also known as clear plastic retainers or alligners, Essix retainers fit snugly over your teeth, making them less noticeable. They’re popular due to their aesthetics but require careful handling to avoid damage.

Fixed Retainers

Fixed or permanent retainers consist of a thin wire bonded to the back of your front teeth. They are a great option for those who might forget to wear a removable retainer as they provide constant support.

However, despite their secure placement, maintenance can be a challenge. These retainers require diligent oral hygiene to prevent plaque buildup.

Tips for Not Losing Your Retainers

Unless you’ve gotten permanent retainers, you can easily misplace one.

Here are some tips to help you avoid losing your retainers.

  • Use a Case: Always store your retainer in its case when you’re not wearing it. This helps protect it from damage and makes it easier to locate.
  • Designate a Spot: Keep your retainer and its case in a designated spot, such as your bedside table or bathroom counter.
  • Avoid Napkins: When eating out, avoid wrapping your retainer in a napkin; it can easily be thrown away. Use your case instead.
  • Check for Fit: Periodically check that your retainer still fits well. If it feels tight or loose, contact us to see if adjustments are needed.

How To Clean Your Retainer

Keeping your retainer clean is just as critical as ensuring you don’t lose it. By maintaining its cleanliness, you’ll improve your oral hygiene and get more months or years out of your retainer.

Here are some easy ways to clean your retainer and keep it in tip-top shape:

  • Daily Cleaning: Clean your retainer daily using a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste or mild dish soap. Also, avoid hot water as it can warp the retainer.
  • Soak Regularly: Soak your retainer in a retainer cleaning solution or a mixture of water and vinegar to remove plaque and bacteria.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Do not use bleach or alcohol-based mouthwash to clean your retainer because these can damage the retainer’s material and cause it to warp.

Keep Your Smile Aligned for the Long Haul

Wearing and caring for your retainer is a small but significant step in maintaining the beautiful smile you’ve achieved with braces.

At Bay Area Orthodontics, we’re here to support you every step of the way. Our professional team is dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain the smile you love.

Reach out to us now at Bay Area Orthodontics to schedule a consultation and let us help you keep your smile aligned and healthy for years to come.

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