What are Retainers?
Retainers are appliances that help retain the beautifully straight teeth that you and your orthodontist worked so hard to achieve. After your orthodontic treatment is completed with braces or aligners you will be given retainers. The retainer is meant to keep the results of your orthodontic treatment intact. The retainer can help to limit the amount of change that your mouth goes through as your face continues to grow, preserving your straight smile and bite.
Great Grins for KIDS usually provides an upper retainer that is removable, like a mouthguard, but made of thin, clear plastic. Occasionally, it is better to use the traditional hard colored plastic and metal wire retainers. These retainers are best for patients that have needed to expand their upper jaw or palate. Both of these retainers are removable and both should be worn every night while sleeping and removed during the daytime.
The lower retainer that we usually use is made of a single wire that is bonded to the tongue side of both lower canine teeth, lightly touching the inside of all the lower incisors (the flat front teeth). We have found that many people do not wear their removable retainers very well and their front teeth can relapse and become crowded again. Because the lower front teeth are most likely to relapse, bonding a retainer permanently keeps them straight and also helps keep the upper incisors straight when the upper retainer is not being worn. This is because the upper teeth rest on the lower ones and if the lower ones stay straight, the upper ones will do better.
Caring for Your Retainer
In order to keep your mouth healthy, you need to know how to care for this appliance. Just like you brush your teeth twice per day, you should do the same for your retainer. When you are cleaning your teeth, take a minute to brush your retainer. This will remove any tartar and any harboring bacteria that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
About once per week it is helpful to disinfect your retainer. Typically a retainer (or denture) cleaner is recommended as it will remove bacteria and tartar that you could not remove by simply brushing it. This will help keep your retainers looking and smelling great for a long time.