Having braces on your teeth for 1 to 2 years or more is not the most pleasant experience that one goes through. This could probably explain the relief you would get once they are removed although the very next minute your Orthodontist is ready to give you your next challenge: The Retainers!
Orthodontic treatment doesn’t end when the brackets come off. In fact, the period that immediately follows braces removal is one of the most critical times for your bite and tooth alignment. While retainers are relatively more comfortable than braces, patients often neglect this mandatory part of treatment only to suffer the consequences later!
So why are these retainers important?
Using braces reorganizes your teeth and surrounding soft tissues, but it takes a long time for the bone and muscle patterns to stabilize to these new positions. Hence, it’s necessary to use retainers to stabilize the bite of your mouth. Not using a retainer could lead to relapse which means that your teeth might go back to how they were before using braces. The risk of relapse is higher immediately after removing the braces due to lack of any external force on your teeth.
Relapse can sometimes be corrected by certain additions in your retainer or it may require a second round of braces treatment if the damage is severe!
Most of the time children get their braces removed before the wisdom teeth erupt. Therefore, its always important to have longer retention regime in such cases to avoid any movement due to abnormal position of erupting wisdom teeth
The different types of retainers you could be given are:
Fixed internal retainers- these are permanent retainers stuck with composite glue at the back of your front teeth.
Removable Hawleys retainer: These are acrylic retainers with a metal wire infront of your teeth and metal clasps at the back to hold it in position
Essix/ Thermoform retainers: These are clear plastic retainers which are vacuum formed to snugly fit on your teeth.
Since your retainer is custom-made to fit your mouth and teeth, you should take good care of it.. Some of the most important steps to take of your retainer are:
- Cleaning the retainer with a soft brush after meals or at least once per day
- Remove the removable retainers when you eat or brush
- Store your retainer in its container so it doesn’t get damaged
- Soak the hawleys retainer when you aren’t wearing it to prevent drying and cracking
- Keep it away from excessive heat
- Do not play with the retainer or bend it. Keep it away from any pets at home