Orthodontic procedures help align crooked teeth and reduce gaps between teeth. However, teeth alignment does not stop when your treatment ends. You need to undergo the retention phase. Retainers are custom-made devices designed to hold your teeth in place. Retainers are often prescribed after orthodontic procedures such as braces to avoid setbacks in the treatment. Retainers help keep your bite in place and maintain a good smile achieved through orthodontic treatment. 

You may take some time to adjust to wearing retainers. However, the benefits they offer to avoid regression of your teeth are more than the initial discomfort. There are several types of retainers you can use, and your dentist will help you decide on what best suits your needs and lifestyle. If you are hoping to have retainers fitted or your retainers have issues, it would be wise to consult a dentist. At Washington Dental, we offer quality services and serve clients seeking orthodontic services in Carson, CA.

Overview of Dental Retainers

It is normal to worry about misaligned teeth or uneven bites. When your teeth are crooked or misaligned, you could decode to correct the issue by visiting your dentist. The dentist could use several procedures such as braces to realign your teeth. After removing your braces, you will enter the retention phase, where you maintain the positive impact of the braces. Retainers are custom-made for the long-term maintenance of your bite and smile.

Straightened teeth are easier to clean, and this will reduce the build-up of bacteria and plaque. Retainers help children in chewing food correctly, meaning they recover the right amount of food. If your child has breathing difficulties, wearing retainers may help a great deal. There are special retainers that will not only align the teeth but help the child avoid snoring.

Just as braces are essential to straighten your teeth, retainers for teeth that have undergone an orthodontic procedure are vital to straighten your smile. Unfortunately, retainers, especially the removable ones, are easy to lose. When you remove your braces during meal times, you could forget to put them back or throw them in the trash.

Retainers are a long-term way to keep your teeth aligned and restore a perfect smile. Different retainers are worn for different amounts of time, depending on the orthodontic treatment you have undergone. Also, your age may be significant when deciding how long you will wear your retainers. Compared to newer teeth, older teeth may take a longer time to realign. When wearing retainers, you will need commitment and perseverance so that you can achieve the desired outcome.

Failure to care for your retainers or follow your orthodontist's instructions when handling the retainers can cause treatment to fail or take longer. If your retainers are lost, damaged, or do not feel comfortable, it would be wise to consult your dentist.

Types of Retainers

Several types of retainers are available, and each is geared towards correcting particular dental problems. Visiting your dentist is critical in determining the retainer that suits your situation. The orthodontist will assess your situation and make a recommendation depending on your original diagnoses and the progress you make with the braces or other orthodontic treatment procedures.

Before you choose a retainer, you need to understand the advantages and setbacks for each type. You will take some time to adjust to wearing retainers, and you may need to wear them for four to six months before your teeth take a permanent arrangement. 

Retainers can either be permanent or removable. The removable retainers are not fixed to your teeth, and you can remove them when you eat or clean them. Opting for a removable retainer is beneficial in that you can remove them when you feel irritated, and you also have an opportunity to brush and floss your teeth.

However, you can easily lose the removable retainers. Also, constant removal could cause damage or easily accumulate bacteria. 

With removable retainers, you need to follow the instructions on care and cleaning, failure to which the retainers will not serve their intended purpose.

Besides, removable retainers are highly associated with relapses. Removable retainers must be cleaned daily to prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar. There are two types of removable retainers including:

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers are made of thin metallic wires with an acyclic base to fit the top of your mouth. These retainers can be designed to fit the inner part of your lower teeth. The wire on Hawley retainers runs on the outside and helps align the teeth.

Hawley retainers can be readjusted when they do not fit correctly. Also, their retainers are more durable and may not require constant replacement. If you follow all the instructions provided by your dentist, your Hawley retainers may last for a long time. In a case where your retainers break, they can be repaired.

However, Hawley retainers are bulky and may affect your speech significantly. Also, the retainer is easily noticeable and could make you conscious. On the first days of wearing the Hawley retainer, you could experience discomfort and irritation.

Clear Plastic Removable Retainers

The clear plastic retainers are molded according to fit your mouth perfectly. The creation of these thermoplastic retainers begins when the dentist creates an impression of your teeth. Thin plastic is sucked around the mold to form the retainers. Some of the advantages of the clear plastic retainers include:

  • The clear plastic retainers are invisible and more comfortable in your mouth. This makes you feel secure and natural when wearing them.
  • The molded retainers are made of thin polyurethane. Therefore, they are less bulky compared to other retainers. This makes it easier to wear the plastic retainers all the time and keep them in place.
  • Clear plastic retainers do not affect your teeth. Some retainers overcrowd your mouth, making the movement of your tongue difficult. The molded retainers are thin and feel natural, making it easy to speak while wearing them.

Despite the many advantages, several setbacks come with the plastic retainers:

  • If you need to adjust or realign your retainers, you may have to replace them entirely.
  • Plastic retainers can be easily discolored when you do not take care of them. Also, exposure to heat can cause the retainers to wrap easily.
  • Clear plastic retainers do not allow room for touching your natural teeth.
  • Liquids are easily trapped on these retainers.

Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are made from a solid or braided wire carved to fit your teeth' shape. Since these retainers cannot be removed, the wire is cemented inside the teeth to prevent teeth shifting. Permanent retainers will remain in place and can only be removed by your dentist. Your dentist may recommend a permanent retainer if you are recovering from severe misalignment or at a high risk of relapse. Also, these retainers are suitable for children who are unlikely to follow the instructions correctly.

If there is tartar build-up or your gum is irritated, you can have them removed. Permanent retainers are easier to have since you do not need to follow instructions on wearing them. Also, you do not need to worry about misplacing the permanent retainers. The material used to make permanent retails is not easily visible and does not affect your speech.

Maintaining good oral hygiene can be challenging. Therefore, tartar and bacteria could build up, causing damage to the retainers and the teeth. Also, wearing the retainers throughout could irritate your tongue and gums. The care you take of your teeth should be transferred to the permanent retainers.

A bonded retainer needs to be cleaned as part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Since you cannot remove these retainers, you may need to floss them with a threader. However, this could take some time to adjust. When the permanent retainers are fitted, your dentist will advise you on the best practices to care for the retainers.

Tips for Cleaning your Retainers

Most individuals may never consider going days without cleaning their teeth. However, dental retainer wearers may be tempted to go for a long time without cleaning the devices. The same bacteria that grow on natural teeth can form on your retainers. Therefore, putting on a dirty retainer may result in bad breath and gum disease. The following are some tips on cleaning your retainers. However, you should always consult your dentist before using any product on your retainer:

  • Always take plenty of water. Water alone cannot clean your retainers. However, taking plenty of water during the day will prevent an overgrowth of bacteria. Sugary foods and drinks can increase bacteria growth on the retainers as they do on natural teeth. Therefore, swishing some water can help remove the sugar of the retainers. Also, keeping the retainers moist can help prevent damage.
  • Using denture cleaners for your retainers. It is safe to use a denture cleaner to clean your retainer if you have no other option. However, the denture cleaner could cause discoloration of your retainers with time. You can avoid discoloration of your retainers by scrubbing them with a soft toothbrush and rinsing them properly.
  • Baking soda. When you clean your retainers, you can use baking soda. Baking soda acts as a disinfectant and can help whiten retainers that have turned yellow. Also, the product can control the PH around retainers and prevent the growth of bacteria that harm your gums.
  • Castile soap. Castile soap is not as toxic as other retainer cleaning products. When cleaning your retainers with castile soap, you need to add the soap to warm water and then soak the retainer. You can then scrub the retainer with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Retainer cleaner. If you do not have time to mix your solution, there are ready-made solutions in the market. When you use a retainer cleaner, you should follow the instructions on the packaging. Different cleaners are not suitable for some retainers. Therefore, it is essential to always read the manufacturer's instructions before using the product.
  • Mouthwash is designed to curb bacteria and plaque deposits in your mouth. Mouthwash can act as a retainer cleaner. However, using it all the time may not be ideal for thorough cleaning of the retainers. A mouthwash that contains alcohol could cause a dry mouth. Therefore, you should be careful of what you use on your retainers.
  • White vinegar could act as a disinfectant for your removable retainers. You can soak your retainers within the mixture of warm water and vinegar and scrub with a soft brush.

It would help if you always cleaned your retainers with a soft toothbrush as you do with your teeth. Also, you need to do a thorough cleaning each week to avoid the accumulation of plaque and bacteria. Some of the signs that you need a thorough cleaning of your retainers to include:

  1. The retainer turns yellow.
  2. The retainer causes bad breath or leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Bad breath may be a sign of bacteria accumulation on your gums or retainers. Eventually, the bacteria may cause the retainers to chip or crack. If this happens, you should clean the retainers and schedule an appointment with your dentist.
  3. Your retainer has white stains. White spots are caused by tartar build-up and can cause cavities to your teeth when left on the retainer.
  4. You have not cleaned the retainer in more than a week.

Things to Consider When Using a Retainer

There are few basic things that you need to consider for care and maintenance of your retainer:

  1. Don't misplace the appliance. Removable retainers are easy to lose, especially when you remove them for cleaning or during meal times. Removable retainers often come with a plastic casing which you can easily lose. Therefore, you can make sure to put them in a larger bag which you can't misplace easily. You can also identify a permanent spot to keep the retainers. Losing your retainers may cost you significantly before a replacement is recreated.
  2. Always remove the retainer during mealtime. It can be awkward and challenging to eat while wearing retainers. Also, food particles can be trapped on the retainer causing bad breath and damage to the devices. When the retainers are worn on both jaws, the teeth cannot meet. Therefore, it may be impossible to chew. Therefore, you must ensure to remove the retainers before you eat.
  3. Clean your retainers correctly. Removable retainers may be a breeding ground for bacteria. It is vital to clean the retainers thoroughly. Also, it would be best if you cleaned them as directed by your orthodontist to avoid damage.
  4. Follow the instructions of your dentist. Even though the hard part of realigning your teeth is done with braces, retaining the effects is critical. By following the instructions about wearing and caring for the retainers, their intended purpose of stabilizing your teeth is fulfilled.
  5. Avoid high temperatures. When you expose your retainers to heat, they may be damaged. When cleaning the retainers, you should avoid boiling water.
  6. Avoid harsh chemicals. You do not need harsh chemicals to clean your retainers. The use of harsh chemicals will not guarantee the removal of bacteria.
  7. Replace your retainers when needed. Wearing your retainers may cause wear and tear. Worn-out retainers can be uncomfortable. Also, their effectiveness in maintaining your smile when they are worn out. 
  8. Always clean your retainer case. Sometimes you may forget to clean the casing of your retainers. Regular cleaning of the case is vital to curb the accumulation of bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions on Retainer Fitting and Care

When you are finally done with orthodontic treatment and have achieved your desired outlook and smile, it may be time to put on retainers. The retainers will help the teeth remain in place and avoid losing the benefits accrued from the procedures. Whether you need the permanent or removable retainer is a decision that your dentist will help you make. The following are some frequently asked questions about retainers:

1)  Why Do I Need Retainers?

There are several reasons why you need to follow up your orthodontic treatment with a retainer. The retainer prevents the teeth from moving back to their misaligned positions. Your bones have two types of cells that help rebuild your skeleton as the need arises. When you chew or bite, the force you exert on the jawbone sends signals to the cells to keep the bones strong. After your dentists align your teeth, the retainer helps to hold the teeth in the desired space. Without a retainer, the teeth may relapse and return to the original undesirable position.

2)  How Long Do I Need To Wear The Retainers After Removing The Braces?

Your teeth will require some time to stay in place after the removal of the braces. The amount of time you need to wear your retainers may depend on the type of retainer you have and the original condition of your teeth. Severely misaligned teeth may take longer to stay in place even after removing the braces. Your orthodontist may recommend that you use the retainers for up to one year to maintain the desired teeth position. You should always follow the advice of your dentist to ensure that the retainers perform their function efficiently.

3)  How Many Hours Per Day Am I Required To Wear My Retainers?

Different retainers are worn at different times. If you have a permanent retainer, you will have to wear it day and night. However, for removable retainers, the dentist could give you different instructions based on your treatment needs. You can remove the retainers when you eat or are cleaning them. For the first three months, you need to wear the retainers for long hours, and as you progress, you can reduce the number of hours you wear them.

4)  What Are The Repercussions Of Refusing To Wear My Retainers?

If you have had braces, you understand that the position of your teeth could shift depending on your age and different dental treatments. Even after you complete orthodontic treatment, it is not a guarantee that your teeth will stay in the desired arrangement. Failure to wear your retainers as instructed by your orthodontist may cause your teeth to move backs. Also, the process may fail, and you may need another orthodontic procedure after some years. Failure to wear the retainer for some weeks may feel uncomfortable.

5)  Are Retainers Uncomfortable?

The first few days of wearing dental retainers could be a little annoying. This is because the materials used to make the retainers are foreign objects in the mouth. You may take some time to adjust to the retainers. Also, you may notice an increase in saliva production which could make it hard to speak. After five days of wearing retainers, you should not feel any pain or discomfort. If you experience pain or extreme discomfort, it would be wise to contact your dentist.

6)  What Happens When One Fails To Clean The Retainers?

Just like you take care of your teeth, you cannot afford to neglect your retainers. Failure to clean your retainers will result in the accumulation of bacteria and plaque found in the mouth. With time, the bacteria and plaque may result in periodontal disease, cavities. Also, you can suffer from bad breath, which is embarrassing and uncomfortable.

Retainers are known to trap bacteria and fungi responsible for various illnesses. If you notice any unusual symptoms, such as redness of the gums and swelling, you need to see your orthodontist as soon as possible.

Find an Orthodontist Near Me

After you remove your braces, biting and chewing may cause you to lose the benefit you accrued from the procedure. Dental retainers are prescribed after you complete orthodontic treatment to avoid any setbacks in progress made by orthodontic procedures. There are several options you can go for when choosing a retainer that suits your needs. Each retainer is worn for a varying amount of time, depending on your age and the orthodontic treatment you received.

When your retainers are fixed, the journey does not end there. It is crucial to follow your dentist's instructions on care and clean the retainers to avoid damage. For fixing of retainers and other orthodontic services, do not hesitate to contact washing dental. Our dentists are experienced in the field of orthodontics and will provide the best guidance and treatment of your condition. If you are undergoing any dental problems in Carson, CA, you will need our services. Call us today at 310-217-1507.