Once a patient's braces come off, it is important to make sure that your smile remains straight! This is where retainers come in. A retainer is a custom-fit device that sits in your mouth and reinforces the new position of your teeth. Although there may be an initial adjustment period, it is an essential part of the process of keeping your teeth in place over the long term.
For the first few months, it is recommended to wear the retainers 24/7, except when you are eating, drinking, or brushing. Eventually, night time wear is indicated for the first full year. After that, many patients can wear it a few nights a week. However, current research now reveals that in order to preserve the position of your teeth for your life, it is recommeded that you never ever fully stop wearing your retainers. Yes, indefinite retention is the key...meaning FOR-EV-ER!!
If a patient is concerned about forgetting to wear the retainer or possibly losing it, a lingual retainer may be the best option. Although this permanent wire that is placed on the tongue side of your teeth is not readily visible, they can cause dental issues for many patients if they don't maintain good oral hygiene. Plaque and tartar can build up around these lingual bars, which can lead to gum disease or cavities.
Wearing retainers are extremely vital after your teeth are straightened. Without a retainer to keep them in place, the teeth that you have taken so long to fix may begin to shift back into a more crowded positon again. Getting braces is quite an invvestment, which is why each patient should stay motivated to maintain their corrected smile for their entire life.