After a long wait, the big day is almost here: It’s time to remove your braces! We couldn’t be happier for you. But this big event also leads us to an important question: What happens next?
What Is Retention?
Retention is an important stage of treatment that comes after your braces are removed. In almost all cases, you will be required to wear a retainer, a removable appliance that is custom-made to fit your mouth.
The retainer plays an important role: It helps keep your teeth in the right place. You see, your teeth are connected to a network of fibers known as the periodontal ligaments. These ligaments hold your teeth in place, but it can take several months after the removal of your braces for those ligaments to adjust to the proper position. Now that the braces are off, the retainer helps keep your teeth from shifting back out of place.
Your dentist will typically start work on your retainer on the same day your braces come off. After thoroughly cleaning your teeth, the dentist will use a combination of X-rays and physical impressions to measure your mouth and fit the retainer properly.
Different Types of Retainers
So, what type of retainer can you expect to use? At the Marconi Dentistry Group, we use three basic types of retainers.
- “Hawley”: This is a thin, tongue shaped acrylic piece that we’ll mold to fit your mouth. A simple wire holds your teeth in the right place. Hawley retainers are popular because they are adjustable, durable, and relatively inexpensive. You can even customize them by choosing your favorite color or design.
- Clear aligner: This retainer is made of thin, transparent plastic. It’s designed to fit precisely over your teeth to help them stay in the proper position. Clear aligners are a popular choice because they are less noticeable than Hawley retainers. However, they are also less durable.
- Fixed retainer: A fixed retainer is designed to stay in your mouth for several months. It features a wire that runs along the back side of your teeth, which is bonded in place using dental cement. Unlike the Hawley or clear aligner, a fixed retainer is not easily removable, and should only be taken out be a professional. Although they are more intrusive, fixed retainers typically produce the best outcomes.
In order to get the most from your retainer, you’ll need to do some regular cleaning and maintenance. Each retainer requires different cleaning methods. For example, you can brush Hawley retainers along with your other teeth, using a normal toothbrush. Clear aligners, on the other hand, require a different cleaning method as brushing could lead to scratching or damage. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your retainer away from extreme temperatures, and place it in a protective case when you’re not wearing it.
For more information on finding the right retainer for you, and more on what type of care is involved, speak to your dentist or make an appointment at the Marconi Dental Group today.