Retainers | Elara Orthodontics


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Using of Retainers to Keep that Smile Straight

When patients visit the dentist or orthodontist to have their teeth straightened, they often go through the process of sitting down and talking about treatment options such as braces or Invisalign. After this, they spend months or years having their teeth straightened with these orthodontic devices. Once they have their beautiful smile on the other side, they look in the mirror and are excited by what they see. They cannot believe that their teeth are perfectly straight and easier to clean; however, the work doesn’t end there. It is important for patients to keep that beautiful smile that they worked so hard to attain. This is where retainers come in. It is vital for patients to understand some information about retainers before moving forward.

An Overview of Retainers

There are many patients who will require a retainer after having braces or Invisalign treatments completed. These are small plastic or metal devices that come with a wire that will help to keep the teeth in their proper position. Patients should remember that the “natural” position of the teeth is where they were before braces or Invisalign treatments were completed. For most patients, their teeth will want to shift back to this position without a retainer to hold them in place. This would reverse all of the hard work that patients put in to achieve that beautiful smile. A plastic or metal retainer will help to preserve this important work.


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Custom Molded for Every Patient

The vast majority of patients will have a mold taken of their mouth that will be used to craft the retainer. These molds ensure that each retainer has been custom-fitted to meet the needs of each individual patient. Patients will have one retainer for their upper teeth and one for their lower teeth. If patients only had braces or Invisalign on either their upper or lower teeth, they will only need to wear one retainer. If patients happen to lose their retainers (it is not unusual for patients to accidentally throw them out on a cafeteria tray), most oral health professionals will save the molds to ensure that additional sets are able to be made quickly.

Not Everyone will Require a Retainer

While the vast majority of patients will need to have some sort of retainer made to keep the teeth in place, not everyone will require them. For example, some patients have braces or Invisalign treatments that are used to move the teeth around to make room to place an implant. Once the implant is placed, this implant will keep the teeth from shifting because a titanium screw is blocking the teeth from shifting back. These patients may not need to wear retainers to keep their teeth in place. The goal of retainers is to keep the smile straight and if the smile will stay straight without a retainer, patients may not need to worry about them. This is a topic best discussed on a case by case basis with an oral health professional.

Retainers Must be Worn on a Regular Basis

At first, patients will be told to wear their retainer whenever they aren’t eating; however, this frequency will fade with time. Eventually, patients should reach a point where they are only having to wear retainers at night while they are sleeping. In fact, this is the goal because this will help patients establish a routine. Many patients do not like having to wear retainers during the day because it can make it difficult to speak clearly and increases the risk of losing a retainer with lunch or misplacing it somewhere. While retainers do need to be worn regularly, wearing them at night will eventually be enough to keep the smile straight.

Clean Each Retainer on a Regular Basis

Patients need to take care of their retainers by cleaning them regularly. Patients should use a toothbrush to scrub the devices before and after each use. In addition, patients may find certain solutions helpful. These can be combined with water to create a solution that people can drop their retainers into. They will help to remove some of the grime that might be resistant to being cleaned off with a toothbrush. It is important to keep these devices clean because it will extend their longevity and keep patients healthy.

It is vital for patients to take the time to ensure that their smile remains straight after having braces removed or an Invisalign treatment completed. This is the job of a retainer.


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