After you undergo orthodontic treatment, you may think you’re done, but there’s one crucial process involved with correcting your tooth alignment and that’s the retention phase.
This is when you need to wear a retainer, an oral appliance that holds your teeth in the position you’ve shifted them to and prevents them from reverting to their old alignment. Why does this need to happen?
Well, the position of your teeth is very malleable, especially soon after your orthodontic treatment has finished. A retainer holds your teeth in their correct position for the long term.
While you may initially need to wear your retainers all day, after a certain period, you can typically switch to only wearing them at night. Contact us to schedule a consultation with our Irvine ortho team today.
Removable retainers are more suitable for the upper teeth.
Our Irvine doctors will assess your tooth alignment to ensure your teeth have fully shifted before approving you for a retainer.
We will need to take impressions or digital scans of your final alignment and send these to a dental lab that will create your custom-fit retainer.
The dental lab will create your retainer based on your impressions and the type of retainer you want. It can take a few weeks to create the retainer so we will call you back to the office when we receive them.
Once we receive your retainer, we’ll check how it fits and bond any fixed retainers to the teeth. If you have a removable container, you will receive instructions on how long you need to wear it.
Hawley Wire Retainers
A Hawley wire retainer is made of a plastic or acrylic plate that is attached to a thin metal wire. The thin metal wire runs across the front teeth and there are two that run across the back teeth on both sides of the mouth to hold the teeth in place. It’s adjustable so it can be tightened if necessary and it’s molded to your mouth. While this retainer is removable, the wire is visible over your teeth when you wear it.
Clear Plastic Retainers
A clear plastic retainer is removable and is very reminiscent of the clear aligners that are used to correct minor orthodontic issues such as Invisalign. However, this removable aligner is used to hold the teeth in place. They are convenient because they are transparent and made out of a comfortable thermoplastic material. They also double as protection against teeth grinding and TMJ when you sleep. However, these retainers are not as durable and are at a higher risk for damage and replacement compared to more heavy-duty retainers.
Bonded Permanent Retainers
A bonded permanent retainer is fixed in your mouth so you don’t have to worry about taking it out and putting it back in. The wire is cemented to the backs of the teeth and holds them firmly in place so they don’t move. Because the wire is bonded to the back of your teeth, the retainer is not visible to others. These retainers have the longest lifespan but require careful attention when it comes to cleaning. You may also have some diet restrictions.
Caring for your retainer is all about storing it properly if it is removable, avoiding certain foods or damaging behaviors, and regularly cleaning it. If you have a removable retainer, always store it in its designated storage container when you take it out.
Remember to remove your retainer when you eat or when you’re cleaning your teeth. You should brush both your teeth and your retainer with a soft bristle toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste for your teeth and just water for your retainer, but make sure it’s not too hot.
If you have a permanent retainer, your Irvine orthodontist will let you know if you need to avoid certain hard and sticky foods. Rinse your retainer out when you take it out and before putting it back in. A permanent retainer requires thorough brushing of the teeth, which can be difficult with the wire obscuring some of the tooth surfaces.