Published on April 28, 2017, Updated on April 28, 2017
You’ve finished your orthodontic treatment and obtained that beautiful, straight smile you worked so hard for, now comes the role of retainers in preserving your winning smile! After braces, we make customized retainers just for you to preserve your smile for years and even for life. Once the brackets come off, it doesn’t mean that your teeth are done moving. Teeth can fall into relapse for up to a year after orthodontic treatment and even after that, the face is always growing and changing with age, meaning your teeth will shift and change as well. Hence, the need for a retainer. Retainers are used to keep teeth straight, even for reasons such as fixing gaps in teeth, bruxism, bite, and medical and speech problems. Each person’s plan will vary and some may opt for permanent retainers instead of removable retainers. Dr. Hardy can easily set up a retainer plan that is right for you, but we advise that you wear it according to instructions to preserve that smile. You’ve already spent all that time getting your teeth straight, so why not keep them that way?
Well that depends. Have you had orthodontic work? And was it recent? If the answer is yes, then you need a retainer! What is the point of spending 1-2 years of your time getting those pearly whites straight if you don’t keep them that way? We want to ensure that you enjoy your smile for years to come, so it’s important to wear your retainer according to the instructions we give you. Many teens and adults will only have to wear a retainer at night right after their braces come off. Others may need to wear their retainer during the day for a specific amount of weeks or months before switching to nighttime wear only. We have retainers for usual teeth maintenance as well as special retainers if your child needs a tongue-thrust appliance or special appliances to fix bites and gaps.
Another common reason for a retainer is to control TMD, which is “temporomandibular disorder.” That fancy word is basically a disorder of the teeth either not lining up properly (malocclusion) or grinding together at night (called bruxism). You may need a retainer if you have one of these problems, as a retainer can keep your mouth from closing all the way (just slightly). This will help your teeth remain intact and relieve pressure off the jaw caused by malocclusion or bruxism.
There are options for permanent retainers that Dr. Hardy can discuss with you if you would like that option. Permanent or “fixed” retainers apply to the back of your teeth and permanently keep your teeth in the position they’re in when braces come off. Similar to how braces are attached to the front of your teeth, fixed retainers are cemented to the back of your teeth through the use of small wires to keep teeth in place. Fixed retainers are a great option for those who don’t want to worry about losing a retainer or don’t want to worry about remember their retainer each day.
We mentioned that teeth can continue to move for up to a year after orthodontic treatment has occurred. When the braces come off, teeth have freshly been put into their perfect alignment, so even the very first month is crucial with wearing a retainer to avoid relapse—or your teeth returning to their original position—instead of staying straight. Most people don’t know this, but there is a phenomenon called “natural physiological drift” with the teeth. It means that as we age, the width of your smile naturally becomes more narrow, leading to crowding of the teeth. Crowding will cause the teeth to turn and go crooked. If your retainer is worn throughout your life, you can avoid this physiological drift and continue to have straight teeth for decades to come. A retainer is also very important to protect the overall investment you’ve put into your teeth for many months. You (or your parents) spent a small fortune to earn you that amazing smile, so you need to do your part to keep it that way. Using your retainer will ensure that you don’t need braces again in the future.
At Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, our sole goal is to give you the healthiest and best smile you can achieve. Proper maintenance and upkeep through cleanings and retainers are crucial to keeping teeth straight for years and even for life. Dr. Hardy can get you set up with a permanent or removable customized retainer to keep that smile of yours straight. Call us today at (720) 887-6003 to choose your customized retainer and stay on the “straight” path to a beautiful smile.