As you near the end of your orthodontic treatment, your doctor will discuss an option for a retainer. While you may be looking forward to finally being rid of “mouth hardware,” don’t get too excited. Don’t get upset about it either! A lot of money has gone into helping you achieve a straight, beautiful smile, so you don’t want that money to go to waste!
A retainer is an oral device used to prevent your teeth from shifting out of their newly aligned position. The first year after you have your braces removed are the most critical for wearing your retainer. Without a retainer, your teeth would naturally gravitate back to the positions they started in before you had braces. What a waste! To prevent this backsliding, you need a retainer to help hold your teeth in their correct positions.
There are generally two options for a retainer:
- A permanent retainer: This type of retainer, also called a lingual retainer or fixed retainer, is a metal bar placed behind your bottom front teeth to keep them from shifting back into the position they were in before braces. These front bottom teeth are the most likely to shift, so they must be stabilized.
- A removable retainer: As the name implies, these retainers can be removed from the mouth. Up until a few years ago, these were the most commonly used retainers. They are fitted to the exact shape of your teeth to hold your smile in place. After the first couple of months, these retainers are generally only worn at night. Therefore, after just a few weeks, you will no longer have any type of appliance in your mouth during the day.
There are pros and cons to both types of retainers.
- Pros and cons of a permanent retainer: Having a wire bonded to the back of your bottom teeth makes them difficult to clean. You will have to use a special tool to help floss these teeth. Yet, a permanent retainer is virtually invisible. A permanent retainer is generally more affordable because it is much less likely to be lost or broken; thus, it will probably not need to be replaced.
- Pros and cons of a removable retainer: Removable retainers are a bit more expensive on the front end simply because it is a device that must be made specifically for your smile. Also, if you lose or break your retainer, you will need to pay to have it replaced. Yet, a removable retainer allows you to clean your teeth easily. You can floss and brush normally, making it very easy to maintain a healthy smile.
At Broad Street Braces, we will discuss with you your options for a retainer. We know that you have worked long and hard to achieve the smile of your dreams, and we want to help you protect it so that it lasts for a lifetime!