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Retainers for Smile Protection

Getting your braces off may feel like the greatest day of your life. That is until the orthodontist suggests you wear a retainer to keep your teeth from shifting out of alignment.

Don’t feel bad; this is the last hurdle before completing your orthodontic adventure. This article will explain how retainers work so that you can understand their importance and how they can protect that smile you’ve invested so much time and effort into improving.

What’s a Retainer and Why Do I Need It?

Retainers are plastic and metal clips that are custom fitted for your top or bottom teeth. (They can also be worn on the top and bottom.) Here are some of the “rules” for retainers:

  • They can be worn prior to having braces or afterward.
  • People may never have braces but they may need a retainer to correct a speech impediment or perhaps need to close a slight gap in their teeth.
  • You may need to wear the retainer during the day.
  • Or just at night.
  • Or, you may get a retainer because you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
  • Sometimes retainers are worn for years; other times just for a few months.
  • Retainers can be fixed or removable. Fixed retainers are cemented to the back teeth.

If you were starting to get the picture that there are no “rules” for retainers, you would be right in some ways. Each person is different so their need for a retainer and how we use them to correct a problem varies.

What’s it Like to Wear a Retainer

Retainers are first made by taking a mold of your teeth using alginate. We can personalize it by adding color or even pictures. The mold is sent to a lab and when it’s ready you come back into our offices for a final fitting.

Retainers feel a little like braces. You may feel a little pressure and your mouth may even be slightly sore as you adjust to the device. But you should never be in serious pain or discomfort, and we’re just a phone call away if that happens.

If you’re wearing your retainer during the daytime, you’ll need to remove it when you eat. For the first few days you’ll need to practice talking normally; you’ll be adjusting to the new device in your mouth. Before you know it, the retainer won’t be a big deal at all.

If you’re wearing the retainer at night, it’s unlikely that you’ll have much of an adjustment period at all.

Caring for your retainer includes cleaning it at least once a day to remove any bacteria. Different retainers require different methods of cleaning, so it’s something that we will go over after you’re fitted with the device. It’s crucial that you continue to practice good oral hygiene throughout the retainer process; this includes regular check-ups and teeth cleanings as well as flossing and brushing regularly.

Dr. Truman and his team believe in you and your healthy smile. A retainer is just another way that we can help you down the road toward the smile you always dreamed of.

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