At the end of your orthodontic treatment, retainers will need to be worn to maintain your new smile. While the position of your teeth will be corrected, the surrounding gum and bone needs time to adjust. Without one, your teeth will eventually return to their original position, which is called a relapse.
Relapsing is most common just after you finish your orthodontic treatment, which is why the first few months of wearing a retainer is a crucial time. Over time, your jaw will continue to grow causing more natural shifting of the teeth. Due to this, long term commitment to wearing them is important.
There are two different retainer types which can be used to hold your teeth in position; fixed and removable. Removable types are very similar to the clear plastic trays used during treatments such as Invisalign. They are made using a model of your teeth and are designed to tightly fit over your teeth, holding them in position.
Most patients will be asked to wear them every day and night for at least two months. After this, patients should wear their retainer every night to prevent their teeth moving. To have permanently straight teeth, they will need to be worn as advised by your orthodontist.
Fixed retainers can be used after your braces have been removed to help keep teeth from relapsing. They are often used in the areas where a relapse is more likely to occur, such as the lower and upper front six teeth. Also known as wire retainers due to the metal wires which are attached to the teeth, fixed and removable varieties can be used in conjunction.
Removable, plastic retainers are recommended by our specialist orthodontists, due to how easy they are to wear and the fact that they can protect all of the teeth from relapsing. They can also serve multiple purposes, as they can protect dental restorations from grinding and they can be used as trays for tooth whitening treatment. However, care must be taken to be responsible and wear them as instructed and to not lose them.
Caring for your removable retainers is simple. You will be provided with a protective box to keep them in when not wearing them. For cleaning, you can use a retainer cleaning solution or use a toothbrush and water. To avoid damage and loss of shape, you should avoid using hot water or toothpaste.
While wearing your retainers, you should continue your regular oral hygiene regime. If wearing them during the day, you should remove them before eating, and brush your teeth before you put them back on. You should also consider brushing your retainer with lukewarm water after eating.
Talk to your orthodontist for more recommendations on how to care for your retainers.
If you've lost your retainers, it's important that you contact us as soon as possible so we can organise a replacement for you. Without a replacement, you risk losing your straightened teeth, which could mean more orthodontic treatment in the future. Please note, there is a charge for replacements.
Orthodontics and retainers are available through the NHS, however, there are some caveats to this. Firstly, the waiting list for orthodontics in the UK can see you waiting for several months to begin your treatment. It is also uncommon for NHS orthodontics to be available for adults, and is approved depending on the case.
After you've finished your treatment through the NHS, your orthodontist is only responsible for your care for the next 12 months. Because of this, you will need to go private for any further care, treatment and retainer replacement or repair.
If you're looking to skip the NHS waiting list for orthodontics, or you need to replace or repair your retainers, we can help. Our specialist team use the latest technology and techniques to provide an impeccable level of care. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
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