Retainers: What Are They & Why Wear Them?

Getting your teeth straight through invisible braces is only half the battle won. You may be antsy, counting down the days till you drop your braces. However, the greater challenge lies ahead-keeping the teeth aligned in their correct position for the rest of your life. Your orthodontists may recommend a pair of retainers to wear after you complete your orthodontic treatment.

What are Retainers?

Retainers are orthodontic appliances that an orthodontist prescribes that keep the teeth in their correct position. Orthodontic treatments such as invisible braces or Invisalign work by applying pressure on the teeth that cause their realignment in the gums and the jawbone. When you remove the aligners, the teeth may return to their original position as there is little resistance. It may negate all the gains made before the soft bone mass hardens.

Types of Retainers

Orthodontic retainers come in two basic types, fixed or removable retainers. Your orthodontist may recommend the best option for you after a brief consultation.

  • Fixed Retainers: These are permanent options that involve fixing a wire at the back of the front teeth to hold them in place. The orthodontist bonds the appliance on the teeth, and you cannot remove it. Recommendation for these retainers varies on a case-to-case basis but more likely for children who may fail to follow instructions or patients whose teeth have a high chance of relapsing.
  • Removable Retainers: These are a set of retainers that patients can remove while eating or brushing their teeth. You can choose between Hawley or Essix. A Hawley retainer has a plastic mold that sits on the roof of the mouth attached to a metal wire that runs across the outside of the teeth. Essix is clear plastic plates that resemble Invisalign invisible braces that slip into the teeth. They are more popular as they are virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Why wear retainers after invisible braces treatment?

1. To Avoid Relapsing

No matter your age, teeth are constantly shifting. The consistent biting, chewing, and daily wear may push the teeth to move back to the original position. Adults now represent twenty percent of patients receiving orthodontic treatments annually. The risk for relapsing is greater in an adult than younger patients as the fibrous attachments and bone are stronger.

2. Correct Spacing for Normal Teeth

Teens and adolescents make up the largest chunk of orthodontic patients. By the time they complete the invisible braces treatment, the normal teeth may not yet have erupted. Retainers can ensure that the teeth are properly spaced as the normal teeth come out, preventing any crowding or massive shifting.

3. Stabilizing Your Ideal Bite

Correcting malocclusions is the second most common reason that pushes Americans to get braces, after aesthetics. Your jaw bone mass and gums may require time to adapt to the new changes. A relapse may return the issues with bad bites. Wearing your retainers at least 20 to 22 hours a day can keep your beautiful smile intact. It also saves you money by preventing you from having to go for treatment over and over.

Orthodontic care can bring back your confidence and stunning smile. However, you might need to wear retainers to keep the teeth in their correctly aligned position. If you have any questions about retainers, feel free to contact the orthodontic specialists at Nowlin Orthodontics in Tulsa, OK.