The day your braces come off is a day to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment is finished. In order to keep your smile as straight as the day your braces are removed, it’s important to wear a retainer.
What do retainers do?
Retainers do exactly what their name implies – they retain the teeth in their new locations. That’s because once your braces come off, there is nothing to prevent them from sliding right back into their old locations. The bone and tissue that support the teeth need time to adjust to the changes that orthodontic treatment brought. It takes time for them to stabilize around the teeth, so a retainer works to ensure the teeth remain in their proper locations.
How much do retainers cost?
The cost of your first set of retainers is generally included in your fees for orthodontic treatment. At your initial consultation, our financial coordinator will discuss treatment costs with you. These costs include everything that is needed to complete your treatment. There are additional costs for additional retainers.
What types of retainers are there?
Just as there are different types of braces, there are different types of retainers, too. Your orthodontist will recommend what is best for you.
- Hawley retainers are what most people think of when they think of retainers. They consist of a plastic piece that sits on the palate, and a metal wire that runs across the front of the teeth. They can be personalized with the plastic pieces coming in a variety of colors and designs can even be placed on them.
- Essix and Vivera retainers are newer, and are designed to be as invisible as possible. They look similar to a plastic clear aligner, fitting directly over the teeth. They are custom-fit by the orthodontist and work well in most situations.
- Bonded retainers consist of a small wire bonded directly to the back of the teeth. They sometimes may be used as a standalone retainer, but often are used as a supplemental retainer in conjunction with removable retainers. They are meant to stay in place and can only be removed by your orthodontist. The wire will be bonded directly to the back of the teeth, hidden from view. These are typically used on patients who have the highest possibility of relapse.
Do you have to wear a retainer forever?
It is recommended that patients wear a retainer well into the future, but you won’t need to wear it around the clock forever. Directly upon finishing treatment, your orthodontist will prescribe how much you will need to wear your retainer wear. This is typically full-time for at least the first few months. Once your bones and tissue have had a chance to solidify so they can hold your teeth in their new locations, you can switch to only wear your retainer at night. Nightly retainer wear is generally advised well into the future and often indefinitely.
Can I use a retainer without braces to move my teeth?
In most cases, no. Retainers aren’t designed to straighten teeth and do a much better job at maintaining teeth than moving them. For very minor cases, it may be possible for a retainer to be used for very small movements, but this will not be recommended for most patients.
What happens if I don’t wear my retainer?
If you don’t wear your retainer as directed, especially in the first months after braces, you may find your smile has shifted. Your orthodontist has carefully crafted your treatment plan, and you’ve put in months or years of work to achieve your new smile. Failing to wear your retainer as directed can result in losing all of that hard work, so it really is important to keep up with your retainers.
Are retainers painful?
Your retainer should not be painful, but there will be an adjustment period as your mouth gets used to the new appliance. If you experience pain, contact our office so we can determine what is causing the issue. If you skip wearing your retainer for a while and then try to wear it again, it could be tight and uncomfortable because of shifting.
What should I do if my retainer no longer fits?
If your retainer is too tight after not being worn for some time, or is damaged in any way, call our office to get a new one made. Wearing a retainer that is damaged or no longer fits properly can cause problems with your smile.