If you have had braces or Invisalign, then you probably already know what comes next after the braces come off–wearing your retainer! Adjusting to life with a retainer isn’t hard, and it’s the best way to guarantee a gorgeous grin for life. Sounds easy, right? It’s even easier when you have an entire team to support you at Smiles from the Hart!
If you are ready for a smile transformation or just need practical tips on keeping your retainer clean, our team is here for you. Dr. Hart has expertise working with people across Middle Tennessee to create the healthy smile of their dreams. Keep reading to learn more about retainers and how our team can find your perfect smile solution!
What is a Retainer?
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? A retainer is an oral device that Dr. Hart will create to hold your straight smile in place once you finish orthodontic treatment. Whether you were using braces or some form of Invisalign, it’s important to maintain your smile by wearing a retainer afterward. Dr. Hart will advise you on how often you need to be wearing your retainer, but to start, you should be wearing them 24/7 unless you are eating or brushing!
Some retainers are made from plastic, others are made from metal and acrylic, and others are secured onto your teeth to make an even more secure fit. Regardless of which type of retainer you wear, the most important thing to remember about them is that for your teeth to keep their shape, you need to wear your retainer. You also need to keep them clean with daily brushing!
As we said before, it won’t be daunting to keep up with your retainer when you have our team to support you, answer your questions, and give you the best tips and tricks to keep your teeth and retainers safe and clean.
Support For More Than Just Your Teeth!
‘What happens if I don’t wear my retainer?’ you may ask. We’d love to explain it to you! While your teeth are getting straighter beneath the surface of your gums, your mouth’s hard and soft tissues are also shifting. There are elastic ligaments that help secure the roots of your teeth onto your gums, and when your teeth shift, so too do these ligaments. Over the months and years of your treatment, those ligaments get stretched out and held into their new position by your braces or Invisalign.
When the resistance of your treatment has been removed, these ligaments are ready to snap back into their old positions. That’s why it’s important to hold your teeth in place for a while to help those tissues adjust, get stronger, and eventually stop needing to shift back as much. It’s a good idea to continue wearing your retainer indefinitely, but you will be able to reduce the amount you wear it compared to the beginning!
Make Your Retainer Last
Now that you understand why it’s so important to wear your retainer, we should focus on how to make it last for life. Ensuring that you keep a case with you if you expect to be taking your retainer out for eating and drinking will reduce the chance of you losing it or accidentally throwing it in the trash. You’ll also want to keep your retainer very clean to prevent putting dried saliva and bacteria back into your mouth day after day.
Let’s learn more about different types of retainers and how to care for them!
A Hawley retainer is the classic style that you may have seen in older movies and TV shows. These retainers are made from an acrylic piece that perfectly fits into the roof or bottom of your mouth, with a metal wire fitting over your teeth to hold them into place. These retainers aren’t used as often in our office anymore, but they are sometimes still the best fit for certain cases.
Caring for Hawley retainers means brushing them every day with a gentle cleanser like hand soap and a toothbrush. It should only take a couple of minutes to give it a good scrub and rinse, and then pop them back into their case or your mouth.
If you know much about Invisalign, then you will be familiar with an Essix retainer. They look exactly like them and are made out of a clear plastic tray that you fit over each row of teeth. They are shaped exactly like your teeth and should be a perfect fit for your straight smile!
Cleaning these retainers will be almost exactly like the Hawley retainer. Use a gentle cleanser and a toothbrush to give it a good scrub once per day, making sure to go into the grooves of the tray. If you find that the retainer is getting gunky, you can find a retainer-safe soak to give it a deep clean.
As we described above, some retainers stay on your smile permanently! Fixed retainers are made of metal wires that are placed on the inside of your smile to hold your teeth in place. They are completely invisible and convenient, but you do have to be cautious about biting and chewing hard or sticky substances to avoid breaking them or getting food stuck in them.
Take good care to scrub your retainer area when you brush your teeth twice daily and don’t forget to floss around it too! This will keep those teeth and gums healthy and prevent trapped food from causing cavities.
It’s Time For Your Own Best Smile!
Are you ready to make your own smile dreams come true? Come to Smiles from the Hart and see just how easy it can be to get a happy and healthy smile for a lifetime! Schedule your free consultation appointment to get started, and we hope to see you in our Murfreesboro or Gallatin office soon!