Braces are simply one step in a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan. During treatment with braces, your teeth are slowly moved into their ideal positions to give you a straighter smile that is easier to care for and will improve your self-confidence. After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will provide you with a retainer as the final phase in your treatment.
The Purpose of a Retainer
A retainer is a removable orthodontic device that is worn for short periods of time, such as a few hours during the day or overnight while you sleep. The retainer is designed to hold your teeth in their new positions. Your gums possess semi-elastic properties, which allows your teeth to move through them as prompted by your braces while you wear them. After your braces are removed, however, your teeth may try to move back into their original positions. Thus, your retainer will keep your teeth in place to maintain your final results and prevent the need for any further orthodontic treatment.
The Importance of Your Retainer
Because your retainer is responsible for maintaining the result you and your orthodontist worked to achieve, it’s essential to wear your retainer as instructed. The amount of time you must wear your retainer may change, so keep in touch with your orthodontist for follow-up appointments to determine how your treatment is proceeding. Caring for your retainer is also important, as a damaged or dirty retainer can’t properly do its job. Regular cleaning is needed to remove food and plaque from your retainer; without cleaning, your retainer could cause increased tooth decay or gum disease, which will affect the health and appearance of your smile. Treating your retainer carefully and storing it in a hard protective case when you’re not wearing it will prevent damage that may require you to replace your retainer. Retainers are simply the next step in effective orthodontic care; taking good care of your retainer and wearing it as instructed will ensure you enjoy your new smile for a lifetime.