The most exciting part about wearing braces is the day that your orthodontist removes them and you get to see your beautiful, new, WOW smile.  You will want to show your friends and family, eat all of the foods you gave up while you had braces, and you probably won’t stop smiling for days. While you are no longer wearing braces, your treatment is still not finished. You will need to maintain what you worked so hard to get by wearing a retainer.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a device that is made especially for each individual. They are designed to help your teeth maintain the position the braces put them in. There are two types of retainers: removable and fixed (or bonded).

Removable retainers: you can easily take these out when you are eating or brushing your teeth. You can get either Essix (Invisible) or Hawley retainers. The Essix retainers are made from clear plastic and will look like you are not wearing anything in your mouth. The Hawley retainer fits to the shape of your mouth and is held in place by a wire that goes around your teeth.

You will need to wear the retainer every day! With removable retainers, you may be able to wear them only at night after wearing them full time for a while, as long as you wear them when the orthodontist advises. It is also very important to keep your teeth and retainer clean. The best way to clean removable retainers is to brush them with your tooth brush before-and-after each use; a bonus is to soak them in a white vinegar and water mixture for about 15 minutes once a week.

Fixed retainers: these retainers are bonded to the backs of your teeth and cannot be easily removed. They are usually worn for several years. When wearing a fixed retainer, it is necessary to increase your regular appointments with your dentist to ensure that your teeth are properly cleaned.

How long will I wear the retainer?

While it may seem like a big commitment to wear a retainer, it is necessary to prevent extensive future orthodontic treatment to correct your teeth again, because they will shift! Therefore, your orthodontist will decide which type will work best for you and how many days you will need to wear it to maintain the smile you have achieved. You invested time and money on your new smile so make sure to follow the orthodontist’s instructions and wear your retainer so that all of your effort does not go to waste.