When your braces or aligners come off for the last time, the active phase of your treatment has come to an end. This is fantastic news and we’d love to congratulate you. However, if you want your treatment to last, your orthodontic care is not over. The next step is retention.
What is Retention?
Teeth aren’t set rigidly in place. Rather, they’re held by periodontal ligaments that take time to adjust to the new position of your teeth. After you finish with your braces, your teeth still need help to remain in their new position. Without this help, those ligaments will want to move your teeth back into the position they were in before orthodontics. Typically, this help involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer.
Which Retainer is Best For You?
Each of the three basic retainers available today are best in certain situations for certain needs.
The most common retainer is known as a Hawley retainer. This is probably what you first think of when you hear the word retainer. It involves a thin piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth and a wire that holds your teeth in position. These retainers are simple, easy to wear and extremely durable.
Another popular retainer is the clear aligner-type. This looks similar to an Invisalign ® tray and is also custom made. Thin, and transparent, this style of retainer is nearly invisible and is easy to put on and take off. While the plastic is durable, it is not as strong as the Hawley retainer and is not recommended for people that grind their teeth.
The last kind of retainer we’ll talk about here today is the fixed retainer. These retainers are not removable and are instead placed in the mouth for years. Put behind the teeth, they are not visible at all and are commonly used for lower front teeth.
Usually, you will only have to wear your retainer 24/7 for 3 to 6 months, although it could be different depending on your individual needs. If you have any questions about post-orthodontic care, contact our team. We will be happy to help you achieve your perfect smile.