For most people, the day that they get their braces off is a happy day. It marks the end of the struggles of having braces and can be a major relief for a lot of people. However, it is not the end of the process to straighten your teeth. You will likely need a retainer to wear periodically after your braces. Here is what you need to know about using retainers after braces.
What are Retainers?
A retainer is a prosthetic device similar to braces, but is worn temporarily and is easily removable. For most designs, it looks like a combination of a mouth guard and a set of braces. They are precision made to fit the new position of your teeth, as well as the roof or floor of your mouth.
What Do Retainers Do?
Retainers are a lower-strength version of braces. Braces are very strong because they need to move your teeth into place. However, you cannot keep that amount of pressure on indefinitely. If you remove braces and do nothing, your teeth will just move back to where they were. A retainer uses less pressure than braces, and they are designed to keep your teeth in place until the support structures for your teeth fully grow in and heal. Simply put, your retainer keeps your teeth where your braces put them until your teeth will stay there on their own.
When Do You Wear Retainers?
A retainer should be used for as many hours each day as possible. You can take it off, but you’ll see better results if you can keep it on for larger chunks of time throughout the day and night. You have to remove the retainer is certain circumstances, like when you are eating. You should also take it out when playing sports as well. This can last up to a year after your braces are removed.
Cleaning and Maintenance
When your retainer is not worn, it should be thoroughly cleaned and put back in its case. This will keep it clean and prevent it from growing bacteria. You should also clean the case regularly, as well. Many dentists recommend taking it off while brushing your teeth and cleaning the retainer separately. This will let you clean the whole retainer more thoroughly as well as the parts of your mouth that it covers.
While you have the retainer in, there are certain drinks that you need to avoid. Acidic drinks and soft drinks are especially bad for retainers since they can cause it to break down or erode over time. You should brush your teeth after you eat and before you put your retainer in.
Solution for Other Dental Problems
While you will likely have to wear a retainer after you get your braces off, there are other cases where you may need to wear a retainer. Speech disorders, like a lisp, can be treated with a retainer. This is because the retainer changes the shape of your mouth. It forces you to adapt and learn a new level of muscle control, which can fix a list or other issues. Breathing issues are also treatable with a retainer. It changes the shape and rigidity of your soft palate (the structures at the top of your mouth), which will change how you breathe.
In many ways, a quality retainer is like a set of braces. We make retainers with the same quality of care and detail as braces, and we can help you make the transition to a retainer. Give us a call at (952) 938-1443 to schedule an appointment and to get started.