You have put in the effort to get your teeth straightened so you can have a beautiful smile by wearing braces. Now your orthodontist says you need a retainer which most likely leaves you wondering “Why retainers after braces?” The answer is simple. To give your teeth more time to adjust so that they stay straight.
It takes time if you want to keep straight teeth.
Your teeth were crooked when you got braces. Otherwise you wouldn’t have used them. The same can be said for retainers after braces. Once the braces come off, your gums and the bones inside your mouth will still need help if you want to keep your teeth straight. You know the old saying, “Bad habits are hard to break!” The same can be said for crooked teeth.
If you had gaps or teeth that didn’t come in right, they could easily revert back to being the same way when your braces are removed. Then you would need to get braces again. Retainers prevent your teeth from going back to their “old habits”.
How long will you need retainers after braces?
This will vary from person to person as well as orthodontist to orthodontist. For the first 6 months to a year, you may need to wear your retainer all the time except when brushing your teeth or eating. This will also depend on how well you bite down on something, whether you are causing your teeth to shift or if your tongue pushes against your teeth when you talk. You may need to wear a retainer all the time longer, until you learn to eat or talk without pushing against your teeth.
After that, you should be able to wear them only at night while you are sleeping. Your dentist may suggest you wear it for only the length of time you wore the braces or if you had really misaligned teeth when you got the braces put on, you could easily end up wearing a retainer nightly for the rest of your life.
Are there other options?
Your dentist will tell you which retainer after braces will work best for you. There are very few options as to the type of retainers you can get and you should really just trust your dentist’s thoughts about what will work the best for you. The orthodontists only choices include:
A bonded retainer which will adhere to the backside of your teeth. It will most likely stay in place for about 5 years. This type retainer works best on the bottom teeth because it can affect your bite if it’s used on the upper teeth.
*clear plastic retainers are worn mostly at night. It will last approximately 24 months and then your dentist may give you another plastic retainer or recommend a wire retainer.
Wire retainers are typically used after either the bonded or plastic retainer when your teeth are more stable in their new placement.
No matter how you look at it, retainers after braces are a necessary part of keeping your smile beautiful. After you have invested the money, and your time into braces, you should try to hang onto those straight white teeth by doing all that is necessary to keep them that way.