Did you just complete your orthodontic treatment? Well done! You worked really hard to reach this milestone. Now, it's time to move to the next phase of your treatment, perhaps the most crucial one: wearing retainers.
The aim of this phase is to maintain your teeth in their new position. Usually, this is vital as teeth have powerful forces pulling them back to their natural position when the braces are removed. Therefore, retainers will ensure that your gorgeous new smile lasts a lifetime.
Now, as your Palo Alto dentist might have advised, there are two types of retainers, permanent (fixed) or removable. Let's explore these two types in detail.
Permanent (fixed) retainers
As the name suggests, permanent retainers are designed to remain in place indefinitely. This type of retainer is made of stainless steel wire and is fasted onto the tongue side (lingual side) of your front teeth (first 4-6 teeth). Generally, the front teeth are the ones likely to move back to their natural position once the orthodontic treatment is over.
Pros of permanent retainers
1. A permanent retainer remains on your teeth 24/7, preventing your teeth from shifting after orthodontic treatment is completed.
2. A permanent retainer is aesthetically pleasing since it is fastened on the back of your front teeth. This makes it invisible when you smile and talk.
3. Since they are glued to your teeth permanently, there's no likelihood of losing them.
Cons of permanent retainers
Fixed retainers can be a little challenging to clean since food can get trapped in them and cause more buildup. Not cleaning them well can eventually lead to gum disease or tooth decay.
1. Fixed retainers can be a bit challenging to maintain clean since food can get stuck in them and generate further buildup. If this buildup is not removed, it can lead to gum or even bone problems.
2. Eating hard or crunchy foods when wearing fixed wires requires caution as they could break or weaken in the process. Contact your dentist when this happens to stop your teeth from moving.
Removable retainers are just that—removable! They are generally worn as instructed by your dentist. Typically, they are advised 24/7 for some time after the end of the orthodontic treatment and nightly after that. They can be removed as needed. They are constructed of transparent, clear plastic and are pretty inconspicuous.
Pros of removable retainers
1. With a removable retainer, you can floss and brush normally. You don't require special tools clean your teeth.
2. They are cosmetically pleasing. You can customize retainers with a cool color or design.
3. Since they are clear and generally used at night, most people won't notice you have them.
4. Removable retainers are designed to cover all your teeth to prevent any movement.
Cons of removable retainers
1. Removable retainers come with plenty of responsibility as your teeth may shift if you don't wear them as prescribed by your orthodontist.
2. If you don't pay attention to where you place them after removal, you could easily lose them.
3. They need to be cleaned and brushed daily; otherwise, plaque and tartar can build up on them.
4. Removable retainers require to be replaced since they wear down.
Aftercare of retainers
Regardless of the option you pick, retainers should be maintained regularly. When it comes to a permanent retainer, your dental cleanings may need to be done more often to help prevent tartar buildup and any gum disease associated with improper cleaning. Removable retainers equally have their own aftercare requirements. Use the tips below to ensure your retainer always looks as good as new.
Eating with retainers
While you should keep your retainer on, as instructed by your dentist, removing it when eating is highly advisable. For example, crunchy foods may damage part of it, while sticky or sultry foods can bend the wires. Additionally, food may get stuck in the tiny crevices if you are eating with the retainer on.
Sports and your retainer
Remove the retainer during games and practice sessions if you play contact sports. There is a higher possibility that the retainer could break during these sessions. It's also more likely for the retainer wires to hurt your tongue or inside of your mouth.
Talk to your orthodontist in Palo Alto if you participate in contact sports regularly. An orthodontist is better placed to fine-tune your recommendations depending on your situation.
Cleaning your retainer
Every time you brush your teeth, remove the retainer and clean it as well. This gets rid of food debris that may have stuck on the retainer. However, some types of retainers are not supposed to be brushed with toothpaste, so always double-check with the best orthodontist in Palo Alto CA, about the products you should use for cleaning.
Keep the retainers safe
When not wearing, always keep your retainer in its case. Don't place it on a tissue or napkin, as it can get thrown away. Additionally, your retainer should never be left lying around the house. If a child sees a retainer, they can get curious and damage it. Also, pets, particularly dogs, love to gnaw on them, so you must always store retainers in a secure case.
Regardless of the type of retainer you pick…
Ensure you wear your retainer accurately as prescribed by your Palo Alto orthodontist. Don't neglect your retainer for weeks, only to try to wear it one day to realize that it no longer fits. Use your retainer religiously, as instructed by your dentist, so that all the effort you put in attaining your desired smile won't go to waste.
If you are exploring the best orthodontist in Palo Alto, we urge you to visit our office for a consultation. We at Blue Turtle Dental pride ourselves not only in our use of advanced and current dental orthodontic technology but in our compassion, communication, and years of orthodontic experience. We feel that honesty and integrity are the foundations of our practice which is why we will never try to upsell you on treatments or products. We also offer flexible payment options to make the treatment affordable for your budget and needs.
Schedule a consultation with the best orthodontist in Palo Alto today to help evaluate your options.