What To Know About Wearing A Retainer

After you have adjusted your teeth with traditional braces or Invisalign, the next part of the process will be wearing a retainer (or retainers). Your Melbourne or Indian Harbour Beach orthodontist will have custom-fitted retainers crafted for you.  They will help your teeth retain their new positions. Here’s some important information you should know about retainers.

Several Types of Retainers Are Available

There are three main types of retainers available. Every patient is unique, so the type prescribed to you will depend on the type of orthodontic adjustments you’ve had made. Here are the three different kinds of retainers:

  • Hawley: This is the traditional “old school” type of retainer that was developed for patients after they finish treatment with wire braces. They’re made of a combination of acrylic and wire. They can be made for either the upper arch, lower arch or both.  They tend to last the longest out of the different types of retainers.
  • Clear: These are probably the most common type of retainers used in orthodontics now, but that is due to their ease of construction.  They are similar to Invisalign trays and most people will eventually wear through the material and need new ones fabricated.
  • Fixed: These are sometimes referred to as “permanent retainers,” although they can be removed at any time.  They are bonded to the teeth, so you don’t have to worry about putting them in at night or taking them out in the morning.  Most are bonded to the inside surfaces of the lower six teeth.  It is very rare to have these bonded to the inside surfaces of the upper six teeth due to the fact that the lower teeth usually contact the area in which the wire would be bonded.

Retainer Use Varies

The length of time that patients need to wear a retainer varies from patient-to-patient and recommendations vary depending on your orthodontist. At Melbourne Orthodontics, we recommend using retainers for life, as there will always be some chance of shifting as you age.  Full-time retainer wear is usually recommended for the first six months after the teeth are moved and then the patient can move to night-time wear only after that.

Keep Your Retainer Clean

A retainer sits in a fixed position in your mouth all night long, every night. This makes it a potential breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. This bacteria can be harmful to the teeth (and extremely smelly and gross). The simple solution to this is to keep your retainer clean!

Some people prefer to use a special over-the-counter product for cleaning the retainer (like denture cleaner), although it is not necessary.  One easy way to keep them clean is to brush them with your toothbrush and toothpaste every time you brush your teeth.  Another way is to soak them in white distilled vinegar (rinsing them well before and after of course).  It is not recommended to soak them in any alcohol containing solution (like many mouthwashes).  Alcohol can in some cases harm the acrylic or plastic.  

We’ll Make Adjustments to Your Retainer

Your Melbourne or Indian Harbour orthodontist will monitor the progress with your retainers closely. This will be done for at least the first two years after your treatment with braces or Invisalign.  Periodic adjustment of the retainers means that they will continue to fit your teeth properly, and will continue to hold your teeth in the proper positions.

You Should Call Us if There’s a Problem with a Retainer

Mistakes and accidents sometimes happen in life.  A retainer can be a fairly fragile device. Thus, it is easy to damage it or cause some structural problem that prevents it from fitting properly. It can lose its correct shape for your mouth simply by dropping it — or by accidentally setting a heavy textbook on top of it!

Contact Melbourne Orthodontics

If your retainer is damaged or lost, call us as soon as possible at Melbourne Orthodontics in Melbourne or Indian Harbour Beach. In some cases, we may be able to reshape the retainer so it fits properly. But if it is damaged or lost and needs to be replaced with a new one, you will want that done as quickly as possible. This is so your teeth don’t start shifting. Contact us today!