What are retainers?
Here are the
answers to some common questions about retainers and looking after
appliances that maintain and hold the alignment of your teeth and the
improvement of your bite after the completion of active orthodontic
treatment. They are usually passive and are not designed to move teeth.
Even after orthodontic treatment, your teeth can lose their alignment
throughout growth and even in adulthood. For example, most people notice
increasing irregularity of their lower front teeth with age. Retainers are
designed to prevent such undesirable changes.
What kinds of
retainers are there?
Retainers are either removable or fixed to your teeth. Removable retainers
can be made either from wires and hard plastic (where you only see a thin
horizontal wire on the front of your teeth), or from soft clear plastic
(which fits over your teeth a little like a mouthguard). Fixed or bonded
retainers are made from a fine piece of special wire that is stuck to the
back of the teeth so that it is not visible from the front. Having taken
various factors into consideration, your orthodontist will determine which
retainer or combination of retainers is suitable for your teeth.
How much and for
how long do I need to wear my retainers?
Removable retainers are worn full-time for the first 2 or 3 months. They
are then worn only at nights for the next few months, phasing down to
every other night for a few months, and eventually 1 or 2 nights a week.
You should then keep wearing your removable retainers 1-2 nights a week
for as long as possible; in other words for as long as you want your teeth
to remain straight! This is called ‘long-term retention’.
Fixed or bonded retainers may be fitted either as soon as retainers are
removed, or some time after. Again, you should expect ‘long-term
retention’ with bonded retainers, keeping them on for as long as possible.