Straight Talk: What to know about retainers
3 October 2022 | By Dr. Eric Meyer
We are now into October, which officially marks the start of spooky season. Sure, those ghosts and goblins set to roam the streets on Halloween are scary, but what’s more scary than finishing orthodontic treatment and seeing your teeth slowly shift back to the original position from lack of retainer wear. Here’s what you need to know about retainers after orthodontics treatment:
Types of retainers: removable vs. fixed
Removable retainers can be taken in and out and, thus, depend on the patient to wear as directed. These may be clear (Invisalign style) or acrylic/wire (old school). In general, most patients are given clear retainers, although the retainers with the wire resting on front the teeth may be made at the patient’s request or in certain circumstances.
Fixed retainers are a small wire that is bonded to the tongue side of the front teeth. Since these are not removeable they can be difficult to keep clean, but work well in holding those front teeth, especially in cases with severe malalignment or spacing at the beginning of treatment. Occasionally, fixed retainers may break in which teeth can shift if not addressed or even noticed by the patient.
We can make either removable or fixed, but we do prefer removeable in most cases as patients are better able to keep things clean.
Can retainers be worn too long?
No. In fact, we recommend most patients wear their retainers at night for the rest of their lives. We typically start patients on day and nighttime wear then transition to nighttime only.
My teeth have shifted since I completed orthodontics
If you have noticed that your teeth have shifted after some time, don’t sweat it! Contact our office and we will consider options, such as making a new retainer or realigning those teeth that shifted. We offer both clear aligners (Invisalign style) and braces to get you back to where you started.
Keys to Retainers
- Wear as directed. For retainer wear there is no “one size-fits-all”. Follow your orthodontists instructions to keep your smile straight.
- Keep them clean. They’ll last longer and stay clearer. A toothbrush and soft soap will do the trick.
- Handle with care. If it’s not in your face, it’s in your case!
- Contact us if you lose your retainer or the retainer does not fit. We may be able to adjust them or make new ones.