Retainers are the last phase of orthodontic treatment that is responsible for maintaining and holding the alignment of the teeth. Retainers also improve the bite after the completion of orthodontic treatment. Teeth that have been moved into alignment with braces have a tendency to return to their original misaligned positions. Retainers maintain the stability of the occlusion achieved by the orthodontist and the patient.
There are two kinds of retainers which are frequently used:
Fixed retainers are usually bonded to the back surfaces of the teeth on the lower jaw for aesthetic purposes and prolonged retention. These may be fabricated directly in the mouth or indirectly from an accurate stone model.
Removable retainers are formed to fit comfortably in your mouth. When you take removable retainers out, it’s very easy to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly because there’s nothing in the way.
A retainer should be worn for at least a year after the completion of orthodontic treatments. Most orthodontists use removable retainers for the upper arch, as relapses can occur in the first six months after braces removal. Therefore, a retainer is worn full time for the first six months. After six months, you can switch to wearing a night guard only, and gradually reduce this if there are no pressure areas when placing the retainer. The lower retainer is usually a fixed retainer, which it should be left in place for a longer period even a lifetime.
With fixed retainers, if you feel that the glue has come off on one or more teeth, or that your bonded retainer has become loose, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. Removable retainers will need replacement when:
• you wear through the plastic
• part/s of wires or acrylic break off
• they became very loose, and your orthodontist is unable to tight them up again
• the position of your teeth changes enough that your retainer does not fit properly
For more information on retainers, contact an orthodontist in Cape Town today.