What You Need to Know About Retainers

What You Need to Know About Retainers

When it comes to retainers, there’s a lot of information out there that can skew your perception. As your Grand Rapids dentists, we want to help clear the air so that you’ll know how to properly use your retainer. Keep reading to learn our best tips, from how long you should wear it to proper cleaning practices.

What Does a Retainer Do?

A retainer helps preserve your teeth’s new alignment after they’ve been positioned from braces or Invisalign®. They do not align teeth or correct improper alignment, but they help maintain proper positioning.

A retainer is a necessary step after braces or Invisalign, or else all the time and patience of wearing your braces could be lost. Your teeth will want to slowly return to their old position, so retainers help prevent that.

If you happen to not wear your retainer for a day, don’t panic, but be sure to return to wearing it as soon as possible. Any minimal shifts in a short time period won’t have solidified yet, so in that case, the retainer will still work to keep your teeth where you want them.

There Are Different Kinds of Retainers

Not everyone will have the same type of retainer, as some are better for different oral treatments. These are the most common types of retainers:

  • The Essix (Clear) Retainer: This piece fits over your teeth like a shell. It’s clear so you can barely notice it!
  • The Hawley Retainer: These retainers have an acrylic palette piece that rests in your mouth with a metal wire that wraps around your teeth. For those needing a Hawley Retainer, there are a lot of color options you can choose from to make it more personal to you.
  • The Bonded Retainer: This is a piece that doesn’t get removed from your mouth unless your dentist is changing it. The bonded retainer is a metal bar that gets secured with a dental glue to the back of your teeth to help hold them in place.
  • Partial Denture: This variation can fall in the retainer category if you’re missing a permanent tooth. A retainer piece can be made to hold in a fake tooth and keep your other teeth from closing in on the gap.
  • Night Guards: Not a directly related retainer option, but a night guard is something that can help if you’re suffering from bruxism, or teeth grinding. If you’re experiencing a lot of morning jaw pain, ask one of our dentists about a night guard.

As your local dental group, we’ll make sure you get a retainer that fits your needs best so that you can stay smiling for a lifetime.

Retainers Need to Be Cleaned!

Yep, that’s right! You need to clean your retainer regularly just like you do your teeth. Think about it: if a retainer sits in your mouth, it’s going to accumulate plaque and tartar just the same as your teeth do.

Be sure to clean your retainer every night in a cleaning solution like Efferdent and also use a low-abrasion toothpaste to gently brush the retainer. This helps ensure that the mouthpiece is sanitary and won’t put you at risk for things like gum disease or other oral hygiene concerns.

How Long Do You Need to Wear Your Retainer?

A retainer is something you’ll have to wear for life. Otherwise, your teeth will shift back to their original state. However, the amount of time you have to wear your retainer each day may vary.

For the first few months to a year after your orthodontic treatment, you’ll have to wear your retainer around the clock (except when eating!) Depending on your treatment, after one year you may only have to wear a retainer at night.

It’s important to wear your retainer as scheduled to prevent your teeth from displacement. If you lose or break your retainer you should contact us immediately to get a new one. For patients who went through an orthodontic treatment within the last year, more than a day without your retainer may mean some pain when putting it back in.

How Often Should You Get Your Retainer Adjusted or Changed?

Getting your retainer adjusted is no big deal. It’s a common occurrence that happens to many people, so don’t worry if your retainer is no longer fitting right. Just be sure to come in and see us as soon as you notice the change to avoid any unwanted pain or discomfort, and to ensure that your teeth are behaving the way they should.

As your family dental group, we recommend a new retainer every year to ensure healthy sanitation practices and to make any micro-adjustments as needed with your teeth.

Looking for More Dental Information?

If you’re in need of braces, Invisalign therapy, or a new retainer, feel free to request an appointment online or by phone at (616) 949-5980 so we can help provide you with the smile you want. As your Grand Rapids, MI dental group, Bander Dental is here to make more smiles happen.