Retainers ensure your newly straightened smile remains aligned after completing treatment with Invisalign® or braces. However, retainers require the right care to maintain their effectiveness. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to squeeze retainer care into even the busiest schedule.
Dr. J.A. Duval and our team at Duval Orthodontics in Albany and Warner Robins, Georgia, offer a full range of top-level orthodontia services. If you need to start wearing a retainer or are looking to replace the one you lost, we can help.
We’re also happy to explain why you need a retainer and share a few easy-to-follow tips on caring for yours.
How retainers work
The bone that holds your teeth in place continually breaks down and rebuilds. This is a natural process called remodeling, and it helps maintain bone density and strength.
Bone remodeling helps make tooth movement possible when you wear braces or clear aligners to straighten your smile. Unfortunately, remodeling also means your newly straightened teeth can move out of alignment if not stabilized.
Nothing can prevent all tooth movement, but today’s retainers are lightweight, comfortable, and designed to keep your teeth straight once they’ve moved into position. Some people wear a retainer for several months, while others may need long-term stabilization offered by a retainer.
Most retainers are removable, but Dr. Duval may recommend a permanent retainer if your orthodontic condition requires it. Permanent retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth and remain out of sight. You may also benefit from a removable retainer on your top teeth and a fixed (permanent) retainer on the bottom.
Some removable retainers include an acrylic portion that fits snuggly against the roof of your mouth or inner lower gums and a thin wire that wraps around the front of your teeth. Others are crafted from clear plastic, molded to fit snugly over your teeth.
Your Duval Orthodontics team discusses the pros and cons of retainer types before prescribing the one that best fits your needs.
Tips for caring for your removable dental retainer
Dr. Duval provides detailed instructions regarding the use and care of your retainer, which can vary according to the retainer type. Generally, however, follow these practical tips:
Clean your retainer daily to remove bacteria and plaque buildup. Check with our team, but most retainers are easy to clean with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste.
Before and after wearing your retainer, brush your teeth to remove plaque-causing bacteria and other debris.
Avoid using hot water to clean your retainer since it can warp, which throws off the fit and effectiveness of holding your teeth in place. Sunny windowsills or the dashboard of a car are also too hot for your retainer.
When you aren’t wearing your retainer, store it in its case, which keeps it clean and protected. Wrapping your retainer in a napkin as you eat a meal or snack makes it easy to forget and increases the risk of tossing it in the trash.
Keep your scheduled appointments at Duval Orthodontics and bring your retainer. Our team uses these visits to check tooth positioning and your retainer for unusual wear, cracks, or other problems.
Also, schedule a visit if you’re having difficulty wearing your retainer as prescribed, notice a change in the fit, or your retainer is cracked or otherwise damaged.
For more information about retainers or any of our services, schedule a visit at Duval Orthodontics today. Call the nearest office or request an appointment online.