Did you previously finish your orthodontic treatment, are loving your new smile, and wish to call it yours forever? Get ready to make retainers your next best fashion item, as they are your best insurance for preserving your beautifully transformed smile.
Your retainers are a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment because it takes time for your teeth to adjust to their new locations – the ligaments and tissues of our mouths are elastic, and with nothing to hold them in place, they have a tendency to try to pull the teeth back to their previous locations. Until those elastic ligaments have completely remodeled and relaxed, your teeth can snap back quickly to their crooked positions. That’s why your orthodontist recommends full-time retainer wear for the first month after your braces are removed and then nightly after.
A long time ago, orthodontists used to say that you can ditch your retainers after a certain amount of time. Even though the teeth do become more stable with time, orthodontists now recommend that you keep your retainers for as long as you would like your teeth to stay straight. Teeth and their supporting ligaments “age” just as your skin does, and as your face wrinkles (sadly!) over time, even people who naturally had straight teeth without ever needing braces will notice that the teeth tend to crowd up as they get older. Retainers will act like “botox” and prevent your teeth from drifting together all wrinkly, and the best part is that they are very easy and comfortable to wear and can quickly become incorporated into your nightly routine.
I Lost My Retainers / My Dog Ate My Retainers
If it has not been too long since the last time you wore your retainers, your teeth are likely to still be straight, and all you need is a new set of retainers. Call our office for a quick and comfortable 3D digital impression of your teeth to get a brand new set. And be quick before your teeth start drifting!
A Loose Retainer Typically Means You Need a Replacement
If your retainer begins to feel loose, it is a sign that you need it adjusted by your orthodontist or possibly need a new one. Over-extended wear can cause parts of the retainer to become fatigued, stretching it out so it no longer fits as snugly against the teeth as it should. If this happens, it is important to have it checked by your orthodontist to prevent your teeth from shifting.
You Notice Small Cracks or Damage to Your Retainer
Manufacturers can make your retainers out of stainless steel, acrylic, and composite plastics. Still, any such materials can suffer damage and reduced efficiency following any accidents. Always be mindful of where you leave your retainers (if they are removable). Patients often take them off to eat and set them aside, exposing their retainers to being crushed or tossed away.
It is also important that you properly clean your retainers regularly. If your retainer becomes dirty or has tartar buildup, it can increase your risk for dental decay and gum disease. Try soaking your retainers in a white vinegar bath (1:1 white vinegar to water) or a denture cleaning solution to remove this residue. If thorough cleaning doesn’t remove the white spots, call your orthodontist to have them professionally cleaned.
Your Retainer No Longer Fits Correctly
Have you had orthodontic treatment previously, but now you’ve noticed that your teeth are sneaking away from their rightful spots? Is it possible to recapture your straight smile without having to undergo orthodontic treatment all over again?
If you haven’t worn your retainer as your orthodontist recommended, your teeth likely have shifted, and you will notice that your retainer no longer fits as it did before. If we catch your orthodontic relapse early enough, you may only need a new retainer to get your smile back. We can craft a new retainer from your finished model and will typically recommend that you wear a clear aligner-type retainer to gently guide your teeth back to their finished positions. The retainer will feel tight in the beginning, but it will feel more comfortable as the teeth straighten out.
We recommend scheduling a visit with your orthodontist to have a new retainer made to prevent further shifting and the need for additional treatment.
What Happens if I Need Braces Again?
If your relapse cannot be corrected with a retainer alone, and you are dead set against going back to your brace face days, Invisalign may be just what you need. A series of few clear aligners will gently tease your teeth back into alignment while still giving you the freedom you enjoyed after your braces were removed. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Leemin to explore your options!