Retainers are used to maintain the wonderful results achieved by wearing braces. Unfortunately, teeth can move throughout life because they are continuously subjected to the natural forces of the muscles that surround them and the bite.
Retainers are fitted after the braces are removed and should be worn at night throughout your life to keep your smile beautiful. There are many types of retainers, and you need to take care of them.
British Orthodontic Society Campaign about importance of retainers
10 things to keep your smile beautiful for the rest of your life…
- Wear your removable retainers at least 3 nights a week so that they are not tight. More is better and you can’t wear them too much! Without wearing them regularly, your teeth will move to some extent which will be disappointing for you.
- If you may not have worn them enough and your retainers feel tight, you should wear them for 24 hours a day for at least 2-3 days. The fit should improve and you can continue full time or every night as needed. Wearing tight, ill-fitting retainers is painful & will harm the roots of your teeth.
- Without retainers, your teeth move throughout life – teeth are not fixed. It is normal for our body parts to grow and change throughout our lives, teeth included. Natural factors cannot be controlled, such as late jaw growth, wisdom teeth, muscle/bite forces, gum disease etc. Some teeth simply want to slip back to their original position. Just as we choose to maintain hairstyles & nails throughout life, we can choose to maintain our beautiful smile.
- Retainers are for life or until you stop caring about your straight teeth. If you decide to stop weraing them (even after several years) your teeth will be free to move – it is difficult to look in a crystal ball and say how fast or hor much they will move and how you will feel about them in the future.
- Fixed (wire) retainers are not an alternative to removable retainers. Although they offer additional security & convenience, they can come loose without you realising & teeth move. They are not a lazy option. Removable retainers not only back up the fixed retainers, more importantly, they support the whole dental arch to stop the back teeth moving which affects the front teeth in time.
- Your retainers need to be replaced regularly (like a pair of shoes). Wear and tear will make them loose and ineffective. New retainers can be made anywhere in the world, in most modern cities, by dentists or orthodontists. We now have the ability to store scans of your teeth on a cloud for new retainers to be made on. Ask about this technology when you need a new set of retainers.
- Always have a spare set of removable retainers like spare shoes…it is an investment! You will not grow out of the spare retainers if you are wearing the old ones regularly but it may feel tight initially when you put them on. Spare retainers are made on new impressions or digital scans. For the best result, wear your current set for 24 hours before your impression appointment and arrive still wearing them.
- Growth of the wisdom teeth can cause sudden changes and make it difficult to wear your existing retainers. If your teeth are moving despite wearing retainers as advised, please see an orthodontist or dentist urgently before it is too late.
- Get your fixed and removable retainers checked by your dentist regularly or by an orthodontist if you have concerns. A minor tooth movement can sometimes be improved easily with a new removable retainer. Contact us for advice even if you are not our patient.
- Keep your teeth and retainers clean, look out for breakages and avoid foods that damage or discolour your teeth. Wear a gum-shield for contact sports and visit your dentist regularly.
For more information or advice please contact us or visit British Orthodontic Society website.