After an orthodontic treatment to straighten your crooked, misaligned, or crowded teeth, your dentist could suggest that you wear a retainer. The retainer will hold your treated teeth in position until they adapt to the new changes and become firmly rooted in their proper positions. Orthodontists custom-make retainers from plastic and wires according to a patient’s needs. They will discuss your needs and then make your retainers when you are ready. You could wear retainers for up to six months.

Thus, you must learn everything about retainers to make an informed decision. Our orthodontists at Beach Dental Care Anaheim are experts in retainers and other orthodontic treatments. We have the information you need to understand the kind of retainer you want, how it will work, and its pros and cons. Thus, you can work with us for all your orthodontic needs in Anaheim.

Types of Retainers

It is an excellent milestone if you have been wearing braces for the recommended period and are ready to remove them. But there is usually no guarantee that your teeth will remain in their newly-acquired position on the gum once the braces are off. Orthodontic patients often complain that their teeth shift positions once the braces are off. The teeth need adequate time to adapt to the new position and for the surrounding tissues to adjust. That is why your dentist could suggest wearing retainers for a few more months to keep your treated teeth in the proper position.

You have two main options when choosing suitable retainers for your needs: removable and permanent retainers. Your dentist will make recommendations based on your unique needs. Once installed, the retainers prevent your teeth from returning to their original position. But you must follow your dentist’s advice to ensure retainers work as they should.

Removable Retainers

These types of retainers are not permanently fixed to your teeth. You will remove them to eat and clean your teeth and then wear them back. Removable teeth retainers are the easiest and are usually available in the dentist’s office. They also offer great convenience to the wearer since you can remove them and put them back on without assistance.

But you could misplace or lose them if you are not careful enough. If you remove your retainers and take time before putting them back on your teeth, you could forget where you left them. That could interfere with the treatment process and affect the results.

You could also break or damage your removable retainers when removing and putting them back. Damaged retainers will not work as effectively as those in perfect condition.

Removable retainers also cause patients to produce excess saliva.

Harmful bacteria can quickly grow on the removable teeth retainers. Without adequate oral hygiene, that could cause severe oral infections and cavities.

The main issue you could experience with removable teeth retainers is the likelihood of regression. Regression occurs when retainers fail to serve their purpose, and your teeth shift back to their original position before orthodontic treatment. That could happen if you do not wear your retainers for the recommended time. It could also happen if you lose or damage your retainers and forget to replace them soon. Dentists advise orthodontic patients only to remove their retainers when eating and cleaning. You must also thoroughly clean them before putting them back on.

If you choose removable retainers for their affordability and convenience, your dentist will help you choose between the following two options:

  1. Hawley or Wire Retainers

These comprise plastic or acrylic and a thin wire. Dentists shape the plastic or acrylic to fit the roof of the patient's mouth or to lie on the inner side of their lower teeth. The metal is designed to lie on the treated teeth to retain the correct alignment. Here are some benefits Hawley retainers present:

  • They are highly adjustable, so you can easily adjust them for a perfect fit once you receive them. You could change them later if the treated teeth need a little realignment.
  • Wired retainers are more durable than plastic ones.
  • They are also repairable in the event of damage.
  • If you care for your wire retainers well, they can serve you for a considerable period.
  • You can enjoy a perfect bite even when wearing Haley retainers.

But Hawley retainers have some disadvantages you should take note of, including the following:

  • They are reported to affect some patient’s speech, which is unlikely with other retainers.
  • They could initially be uncomfortable on the cheeks and lips, though you will become used to them with time.
  1. Clear Plastic Teeth Retainers

Dentists model these removable retainers over your treated teeth to achieve a perfect fit and keep your teeth in position. That is why they are sometimes called molded retainers. Designing clear plastic teeth retainers starts with developing a mold of your teeth. The dentist then takes the mold to the lab. They then pour melted, thin plastic around it to make a mold. Here are some benefits you can expect if you choose these types of retainers:

  • Clear plastic aligners are comfortable and virtually invisible. Thus, it becomes easier to wear as recommended since you are not worried about other people noticing them on your teeth.
  • They are also less bulky than Hawley retainers and are very comfortable.
  • They are also least likely to impact your speech.

But they have several downsides, including the following:

  • They are not adjustable. If your teeth require realignment, you can only replace the whole set.
  • They are not repairable. If you damage your retainer, you must replace it.
  • Plastic retainers are affected by high temperatures.
  • Over time, they can discolor, consequently becoming visible.
  • Plastic retainers could affect your bite.
  • They can trap and retain liquids, causing bacterial growth and oral problems like cavities and periodontal disease.

Your dentist will discuss the various brands of plastic retainers made from various plastic materials. That will help you narrow your choice to the most ideal one for your needs.

Permanent Retainers

These types are permanently fixed to your teeth and must remain there until the end of the treatment period. They are made from solid or braided wire, which is curved to match the shape of your treated teeth. Your dentist will cement or bond the wire to the inner part of your front teeth to keep them in position. Permanent retainers are mostly recommended for the lower teeth. Once they are fixed, you cannot remove them until your dentist or orthodontist completes the treatment period.

Dentists suggest permanent retainers when they suspect you could relapse after orthodontic treatment. If you are less likely to follow your dentist’s recommendation on wearing retainers, you are better off wearing a permanent one. Permanent retainers are also perfect for avoiding patients relapsing, losing, or damaging their retainers. But your dentist can remove them in cases of tartar or plaque buildup, which, if left untreated, could cause serious oral problems like cavities and gingivitis.

Here are some benefits permanent retainers present:

  • Once installed, you do not have to worry about following your dentist’s instructions on how long you must wear your retainers.
  • Permanent retainers are generally invisible; no one needs to know about your orthodontic treatment unless you tell them.
  • They do not impact your speech.
  • Since they are unremovable, you cannot misplace or lose them. Also, you cannot easily damage them.
  • They can work perfectly for an extended period.

But you must be aware of some of its cons to make an informed decision:

  • It could be difficult to maintain perfect oral hygiene when wearing permanent retainers. It is because brushing all areas of your teeth and mouth and flossing could be challenging for retainers. That increases your chances of experiencing severe oral problems like gum disease and cavities.
  • A permanent retainer feels strange and could continue feeling that way for a long time.
  • Its metal wire could irritate the tongue.

Your dentist will instruct you on how well you can keep your mouth and permanent retainers clean after installation. For example, you must carefully brush them as you do your teeth and floss thoroughly to remove stuck food particles between your teeth and the retainers.

How Dentists Fit Retainers

Your dentist can mention the need to wear a retainer before or after they remove your braces. It is essential to have this conversation early to allow you enough time to understand what is involved and make a decision. What matters is that you are ready when the time comes to have them. Having the retainer right after braces is advisable to keep your teeth in position and promote quick restoration. If you take time, you could relapse, and wearing the retainer will not produce the desired results.

The process your dentist will follow in installing your retainer will depend on whether you need a permanent or removable retainer. Remember to discuss your options in detail with your dentist before the installation.

If you choose a removable retainer, the process will simply involve the following:

  • Your dentist will start by taking impressions of your teeth. They will do that with dental putty (a soft material used in dentistry for such purposes).
  • They will put the putty in trays, which are then inserted over your teeth to create an exact mold of your teeth.
  • Your dentist will take the mold to the lab to create an acrylic or plastic retainer that matches your teeth. You could wait a week or so for your retainer to be ready.

Note: What is described here is a traditional impression. Most dental offices today have equipment that takes digital images. The latter are easier to create and more accurate.

If you choose a permanent retainer, your dentist will walk you through the following process:

  • They will use metal to estimate the proper placement of the teeth.
  • They will then use glue to fix the wire to your teeth.

Even though permanent retainers take a longer time to fix on the teeth, you do not need to wait for them to be made in a dental lab. You leave with your retainers on the same day.

How to Care for Retainers After Installation

Remember that you could wear retainers for up to six months, and sometimes more if your dentist recommends it. Thus, knowing what you must do or avoid to enjoy a more extended service and keep your teeth and mouth healthy is necessary. Here are some tips your dentist will give you after installing your retainers:

  • Ensure excellent oral hygiene, which involves brushing your teeth and retainers twice daily and flossing at least once daily. Remember that your retainers can trap food particles that could combine with the bacteria in the mouth to cause buildups and oral infections. Proper dental hygiene will keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong and ensure a successful orthodontic treatment.
  • If you have removable retainers, keep them in a case every time you remove them to eat or clean. That way, you will not misplace or lose them. Avoid wrapping them in tissue because you could accidentally throw them away. Keep your retainers away from your pet; that could damage them.
  • Remove your retainers when eating, drinking, or cleaning your teeth. That way, you will maximize the time you have them on and reduce the treatment period. It also reduces your chance of misplacing or losing your removable retainers.
  • It is advisable to remove the retainers when eating or drinking. Retainers can easily trap food particles and sugary drinks, creating a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. You minimize your chances of experiencing oral and dental issues if you strictly eat and drink without your retainers.
  • Use a soft brush to clean your retainers, whether permanent or removable. A less-abrasive toothpaste will also work well to keep your retainers in excellent condition throughout treatment. You could occasionally soak your removable retainers in a retainer cleaner to deep-clean them. Retainer cleaners remove tartar and plaque buildup and keep your retainers from smelling bad.
  • Keep off hot drinks when wearing retainers. Also, do not keep your removable retainers in a place with a high temperature, including inside a hot car. The high temperatures could warp your retainers and cause them to lose shape.
  • Contact your dentist immediately after you damage or lose your retainers for a quick replacement. If you prolong the replacement, your teeth could return to their old position, impacting the results of orthodontic treatment. You must keep the teeth in their new position throughout treatment for more guaranteed results. That is why you must receive new retainers immediately after you lose or damage yours.
  • Have your retainers on whenever you visit your dentist for review. That way, your dentist can ensure that your retainers fit well, are in good shape, and that your treatment is progressing well.

What Retainers Cannot Do For You

The essence of wearing retainers is to keep your teeth in position after braces to prolong the treatment period and improve your chances of success. Retainers will prevent your teeth from shifting back to the position they held for a very long time. They will help your teeth become accustomed to the new position. After orthodontic treatment, it could take a long time for your teeth, jaw, gums, and surrounding tissues to stabilize in the new position. That is why you need retainers after braces. The time you need to wear retainers will depend on how severe your orthodontic issue was before the braces. Even with their success rate in keeping teeth from shifting, here are some things you cannot achieve with retainers:

  • Retainers cannot straighten crooked or misaligned teeth. If your teeth are misaligned, you must undergo orthodontic treatment before wearing retainers. Your dentist can recommend braces for two to three years, after which you will wear retainers to help your teeth maintain their proper position on your gums. Retainers cannot give you any results without orthodontic treatment.
  • Retainers cannot fix a bad bite. If your upper and lower teeth do not match when you bite down, you must correct your bite before wearing retainers. You can do so with orthodontic treatment. If you have had braces for the recommended period and they have fixed your bite, you can wear retainers to ensure your teeth maintain their new position.
  • Retainers alone will not close the gaps in your teeth. If your teeth are not correctly aligned, you must first work on closing the small gaps between the teeth before wearing retainers. Retainers will only help you maintain the treatment results.

Find a Competent Anaheim Orthodontist Near Me

Orthodontic treatment, like the installation of braces, is essential when you have crooked, misaligned, or overlapping teeth. It ensures that your teeth are correctly aligned, corrects your bite, and improves your smile and the functionality of your teeth. But your teeth can quickly shift out of position after braces, rendering the entire treatment unsuccessful. We recommend retainers at Beach Dental Care Anaheim to continue treatment and keep your treated teeth in position. Our experienced dentists will walk you through the treatment process and help you understand your options if you wish to have retainers after removing your braces. Call us at 714-995-4000 for more information and to enjoy quality and affordable orthodontic services in Anaheim.