So, you’ve had your orthodontic treatment, your teeth are looking great, and you couldn’t be happier with your smile! And now you’re free to return to your normal dental hygiene regime and enjoy your brand new smile – right? Well, not quite. Whilst the majority of the hard work is behind you, you’ll still need to put in a certain amount of effort in order to maintain that brilliant smile you and your dentist have worked so hard for. Introducing teeth retainers…
What are teeth retainers?
A retainer is worn to keep your teeth in place and prevent them from undoing all the hard work your braces have done over the past few months or years. It is made by taking a mould of your new smile and should then be worn for at least several years.
Fixed or removable retainers?
There are two different types of retainers – fixed and removable. Your dentist will discuss the options with you and decide which type will be best for you and your individual circumstances.
Removable teeth retainers
Removable retainers are either made of clear plastic or consist of a wire, which runs across the front of the lower or upper teeth, and is held in place using acrylic and clasps. Their removable nature means that it’s incredibly easy to clean and maintain – however you do need to remember to put it back in each day. Because of this they can be easy to misplace or damage, and your pets will love to chew them!
Fixed teeth retainers
Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire, which is worn across the back of the upper or lower front teeth and bonded into place with dental cement. They need a little more care and attention to keep them clean and maintained, however they generally provide the best results – keeping your teeth permanently in their brand new, straight formation.
Looking after your retainers
There are a number of steps you can, and should, take to keep your retainer clean, hygienic, and performing to the best possible standard.
It’s not only crucial that you clean your retainer regularly, it’s also vital that you clean it properly.
Firstly, invest in a second tooth brush (one with soft bristles) – you won’t want to use the same one that you use to clean your teeth as you’ll be putting soap on this one!
Then, take some liquid soap, squeeze a small amount onto the toothbrush, and add some luke warm water to make a lather.
Next, use the toothbrush to gently scrub the retainer, making sure that you clean all of its surfaces thoroughly, and finally, give it a good rinse to ensure that you’ve got all the soap off.
Pop the retainer straight back into your mouth or safely away in its case until you need it again.
But don’t over clean! – Whilst it’s important to keep your things clean, don’t go overboard. Don’t be tempted to disinfect your retainer with boiling water, as this runs the risk of misshaping it. You should also never, ever, use bleach to clean it, as this can not only erode it, but it can also leave an unpleasant taste.
Whether you have a fixed or a removable retainer, you should visit your dentist regularly so that they can check that everything is working as it should be. Your dentist will check around your retainer to ensure that it is keeping your teeth straight and that it is not causing plaque or tartar.