The day has finally arrived: your braces or attachments are coming off, and your teeth are in alignment! But just when you thought your orthodontic treatment was over, your orthodontist tells you you're not quite done yet; you need to wear a retainer.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliances that is is designed to ‘retain’ your teeth in their new, corrected positions. Your retainer will be custom made to fit your teeth. Some retainers are fixed (meaning they can't be removed without the help of a dental professional) and some are removable (meaning you can take them out yourself as needed).
Why do you need a retainer?
During orthodontic treatment, your teeth become loosened slightly as they move and shift into their new, straighter positions. Now that your braces have been removed and no longer support your teeth, your teeth need to settle into the soft tissue and jaw bone that support them naturally. This process takes time, and this is where the retainer comes in.
Your retainer will prevent your teeth from shifting out of alignment after your braces are no longer holding them in place.
What happens if you don't wear your retainer?
If your teeth shift, it may mean you'll need further orthodontic treatment, or that you'll wind up with teeth that are even more misaligned than they were in the first place.
Wearing your retainer as your orthodontist prescribes will help you maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment, and keep your smile healthy.
So as you can see, in many ways retainers are just as important as braces in the orthodontic treatment process.
How do you need to wear your retainer?
Most of our orthodontic patients wear their retainers full time for about a year. However, this time frame can vary significantly from one person to another.
Your orthodontist will monitor the stability of your teeth periodically throughout the time you wear your retainer, and make recommendations about whether it should be worn full time or part time.
After a time, you may only need to wear your retainer at night, or eventually not at all.
Are retainers comfortable?
Just like with braces or SureCure, retainers take some getting used to. At first, you will feel some soreness, discomfort or pressure while wearing your retainer. This is normal, so don’t worry! This discomfort will fade over time.
Ultimately, the more consistently you wear your retainer, the more comfortable it will feel.