Wearing your retainer
Wearing your retainer
After you’ve had your braces fitted, one of the most important things to do is keep wearing your retainer.
A retainer is a custom-made, removable apparatus which is designed to fit snugly around the teeth to maintain the new positioning of the teeth. There are two types of retainer which you might be given after your orthodontic treatment has finished- removable and/or fixed.
Once you have your braces off, your teeth will naturally move into their previous position. It takes time for the teeth to settle down into the jawbone, as elastic fibres in the gums will try to pull the teeth back.
A removable retainer looks like a gum shield and is given to every patient once their treatment is finished. You should wear your removable retainer every night unless otherwise instructed by your orthodontist.
You might also be provided with a fixed retainer once you’ve had your braces removed. This is a thin, metal wire which is attached behind your front teeth. It will be fitted as soon as possible once your orthodontic treatment has finished.
Although it’s attached, you will barely notice it’s there once your braces are off, as the wire is so thin. You just need to make sure you give your fixed retainer an extra brush to ensure it stays clean.
How long should I wear my retainer?
You’ll have to wear your retainer for one to two years, depending on how much the teeth have been moved. Your orthodontist will advise you further on this when you are given or fitted the retainer.
If you stop wearing your retainer before you’re supposed to, your teeth will gradually move back into their old position.
Cleaning and caring for your retainer
Once retainers are placed on the teeth, they are exposed to natural bacteria that forms in the mouth alongside plaque and bits of food which might have been missed when cleaning, so it’s important to make sure you clean them just as thoroughly as you would your normal teeth.
For removable retainers, it’s important you rinse them out with lukewarm water after use. Many people assume that they should be cleaned with hot or boiling water to reduce bacteria, however, this can make them lose their shape, which means they won’t be as effective.
You’ll also be advised to soak them in a retainer cleaning solution once a week for 20 minutes, to make sure they’re thoroughly cleaned. Your orthodontist can advise which cleaning solution is best for you to use.
When you’re not wearing your retainer, you should keep it in its protective case to avoid getting any bacteria on it and to avoid any damage that might come from dropping it.