A Guide to Orthodontic Retainers

You have finally made it! Your braces are off, but you are not home free yet! After braces there is always an orthodontic retainer. These removable devices complete the straightening process.

Retainers will help stop teeth from shifting back to their previous place after your braces come off. These retainers are custom made to fit your mouth, and are usually made out of acrylic with metal wires or plastic. You will probably be advised to wear a retainer full time for at least six months after your braces come off, and then at nights. But how long you wear it is really up to your orthodontist.

Wearing a retainer does not mean that your braces did not straighten your teeth. Your teeth just may not have entirely solidified in their new position. Retainers help your gums, muscles, and bones to fully adjust to the new position. Sometimes retainers are even used to make minor adjustments without braces. So you should listen to your orthodontist and wear one. Below are a few helpful tips about retainers.

• You may not want to wear your retainer but know your newly positioned teeth and smile will be much better off if you do. Most orthodontists recommend patients to wear it full time and then after several months you can move on to nights only. When you do take them out, please remember to put them back in its case.

• Remember that your retainer lives in your mouth, so it accumulates a lot of bacteria. Your retainer should be brushed twice a day, just like your teeth.

• Take care of your retainer. They are fragile and can be expensive to replace. If your retainer needs any adjustments, let your orthodontist take care of it.

• Remember to take your retainer out. Even though your retainer is fitted to your mouth, you should not treat it like a permanent fixture. Remove it when you eat. And do not put it in hot water, in a napkin, or in your jeans pocket.

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