In most cases, a retainer is a necessary final step in orthodontic correction. This is a custom-made appliance typically made from metal and plastic that is fitted exactly to the wearer’s mouth. After braces shift the alignment of the teeth, this special device serves to keep them from moving back to their original positions. If you or your child is looking forward to having braces removed, we encourage you to learn more about what to expect regarding retainers.
While our orthodontists will specify exactly when and for how long the retainer should be used, in most cases, it should be worn between meals and at night for at least three months after braces are removed.
These appliances may be either removable or fixed. The removable version is designed to be taken out when eating and is usually worn for at least a year after braces are removed. The fixed version is attached semi-permanently to the teeth and cannot be removed without an orthodontist’s assistance. This type of appliance is usually worn indefinitely, often for several years.
Caring for a retainer is an important part of oral health. Removable ones should be soaked in water with denture cleaner tablets or a vinegar and water solution when it’s not in your mouth. It’s important to keep removable retainers in liquid when not in use, since the plastic can crack if it gets too dry. Those with fixed appliances must keep up with regular dental checkups to avoid cavities and decay developing around the retainer.
In addition to keeping teeth straight, there are a few unique benefits of wearing a retainer. First, a correct bite allows children to chew food more thoroughly, which means that they are getting more nutrients from the meals they eat. In addition, adults who have diabetes can avoid oral complications of the disease by wearing a retainer to promote straight teeth. Crooked or misaligned teeth are more likely to develop cavities and decay. For some kids, wearing a retainer can help to correct speech problems and help with breathing issues, such as snoring.
For many parents, the most challenging aspect of orthodontic treatment is ensuring that your child wears the retainer as directed and doesn’t lose it at school or a sports practice. Some kids find a bright case for their appliance as an effective way to remember to bring it to school. Also, keeping the case in the same place can help make it a habit.
If you have braces or are in need or orthodontic correction, schedule an appointment at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics in Oak Lawn to learn more about the importance of orthodontic retention. Contact us today to book an appointment.