After completing your orthodontic treatment, you will need to think about how to keep the great look your orthodontist has created for you. Teeth can, and do, migrate into different positions once your braces come off and this is where retainers fit it. They are designed to keep your teeth more or less where they were when your braces came off.
There are several different types of retainers, those you can take off and those fixed permanently to your teeth. The fixed ones take the form of wires bonded to the back of your teeth ensuring that your teeth remain in the desired position. Other than the usual oral hygiene and care your would take of any appliance, after getting used to the retainer, you can pretty much forget about it and enjoy the results of your treatment for many years to come.
Removable retainers come in several varieties, those that look like the image above (Hawley retainer), and those that look like clear moulds of your teeth (Essix retainer). Either way, there is a simple rule that you need to follow, a retainer only does it’s job when you are wearing it! Your orthodontist will advise you on a wearing schedule which is likely to be full time for a number of months after your treatment has finished and then just over night after that. It could be that your wearing schedule is further reduced to a few times a week after a year or so and by making sure you do as instructed, you should find your teeth remaining in place for many years to come.
It does take a little while to get used to wearing a removable retainer, it will feel strange at first and your speech may be effected but you will soon get used to it and barely notice it is there. If you leave it out for a long time and then start re-wearing it again, you might find your teeth getting a little sore for a few days but this will go away quickly. Leaving it out for any significant period of time may result in your teeth moving again and your retainer may no longer fit – why take the risk, make sure you wear it as instructed and if it becomes damaged for any reason, make an appointment to get a new one.