After months and months of bondings, bandings, and adjustments, no sticky, chewy foods, you finally get your braces off. WOOHOO! The light at the end of the tunnel. A sigh of relief, its all over…not exactly. To keep your smile looking dazzling and perfect takes continuous work. I am talking beyond brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist. I am talking about the infamous retainer. Dun Dun Dunnnn
I hear all the time, my teeth do not look like they did when my braces first came off, my teeth have shifted etc. The reality is, if you do not wear your retainer these things will happen. It is crucial to maintain your smile, you must WEAR YOUR RETAINER! Most people wear their retainer before they go to bed which will do the trick. It is recommended to wear it 24/7 for at least 6 months to a year after the braces first come off.
There are a few different types of retainers. The common ones include the clear plastic (Essix) retainer and the wire (Hawley) retainer. The Essix retainer resembles the Invisalign aligners. However, since Essix retainers are just used to hold a patient’s teeth in place as opposed to realigning them, they are not switched every two weeks but instead are worn over a much longer time frame. A big advantage of an Essix retainer is they are fairly unnoticeable. Some disadvantages include they are non-adjustable, so they cant be used for minor adjustments and they are fragile, especially if you are a teeth grinder.
Now Hawley retainers, consists of wires, clasps, and plastic. The clasps grasp selected teeth anchors it securely with the retainer. The retaining “bow” wire arches holds and maintains their alignment. Some advantages of Hawley retainer is that it is adjustable, which allows for further fine tuning of the alignment of your teeth and it is more rugged and tough. Now some disadvantages include that is it visible more visible than the Essix and obvious that you are wearing a retainer, and it is bulky.
A retainers biggest advantage is also a disadvantage. With retainers being removable and or can be taken out, you can remove them when you eat, brush and floss, or during those times when wearing them is not required. Naturally, this also means that they can get lost or simply just not worn. In reality, no retainer can perform its intended function if it is not in place. So when you get your braces off, and get retainers, be sure you wear them so you ensure your smile is healthy and beautiful.