You went through the time, money, and effort to get braces, and now you finally have the straight teeth you’ve always wanted.  Unfortunately, even after getting braces, your teeth won’t remain straight without some help.  This is where a retainer comes in.  Retainers are clear, plastic, and custom-made to fit your mouth.  Most retainers can be removed, although there is a kind of retainer that is permanent.  Permanent retainers include a metal wire that is glued on the back of the teeth.  While this is a good choice for patients who have a hard time keeping up with removable retainers, they are more difficult to clean and can cause problems for the surrounding teeth.

Your dentist will help you decide how often you should wear your retainer.  After braces, your gums and the bones around your teeth will slowly begin to stabilize.  Chewing and speaking will help this process, but your teeth are still more susceptible to shifting and moving during the stabilization phase.  Because of this, your dentist may have you wear your retainer at all times for the first three months.  During this time, you will only take your retainer out for meals and when you’re brushing your teeth.  As time goes by, your teeth will become more stabilized, and you will likely only have to wear your retainer at night.

There is another type of retainer that is sometimes used by patients.  These retainers are used when someone is waiting to have a certain dental procedure done, such as a dental bridge or implant.  These are also clear plastic retainers, but these retainers have a fake tooth where the missing tooth is located.  This allows the patient to continue chewing like normal until a more permanent solution is available.

It is very important to take care of your retainer, as it takes time and money to replace.  Make sure you are washing your retainer after each use with a toothbrush and water.  Over-the-counter cleaning solutions are useful to soak your retainers in, ensuring all germs and bacteria are removed.  If you are wearing your retainer at all times and have to take it out for meals, avoid putting it on a napkin or plate, which can result in the retainer accidentally getting thrown away.  Instead, carry the retainer case around with you and each time you take it out for meals, put your retainer safely in its case.  You will also want to make sure to keep your retainer out of reach of pets and small children.

Keep in mind that at some point all retainers will need to be replaced.  This is one of the reasons it is important to visit your dentist twice a year for a checkup.  She will be able to help you know when it’s time to replace your retainer.  If you are looking for a dentist in the Nashville-area, we would love to help you with all of your dental and/or orthodontic needs.  Please make an appointment with us today at Cornerstone Family Dentistry!