It’s time for the big reveal of your new smile and life without braces! And time to be fitted for a retainer for the first time. What is a retainer? A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that is typically used once braces are removed to help protect the work that your braces accomplished. There are different types of retainers, so you may be asking, which type of retainer is best? So let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed choice about which one will suit your needs.
Why Do I Need a Retainer?
Retainers are important because even after your braces are removed, your teeth and bite may still be adjusting to their new positions and can be prone to drifting back into their old places, especially during the first several months. A retainer helps to prevent this from happening and keeps your new smile looking its best.
Which Type of Retainer is Right for Me?
There are generally two types of retainers: Removable and fixed. Both are custom fitted to your teeth by an orthodontist, usually right after you get your braces removed. Determining which type of retainer is best can be dependent on several factors, including the location of the teeth where it will be placed, the changes that were experienced throughout orthodontic treatment, your age and lifestyle, and multiple other factors.
Removable retainers are often sought after by patients first getting their braces off. The idea of an orthodontic appliance that can be taken out before eating or cleaning your teeth can sound very appealing after months with braces complicating things!
However, the removability can also come with it’s own disadvantages, such as the possibility of forgetting to put it back into place or losing it. If a retainer is not worn for the recommended hours per day, typically 22 hours at the beginning, the teeth can begin to shift back to where they were before braces.
Removable retainers can also be more noticeable than fixed retainers, since their design requires support on both the inside and outside of your teeth, which means a wire will be visible when you smile.
Fixed or permanent retainers have many advantages as well, including the fact that once they are installed by an orthodontist, you often will forget that they are even there. Fixed retainers are a lot like braces in that they utilize a wire attached to your teeth with dental cement or glue, but they are a lot more compact than braces due to the lack of need for brackets and they also fit on the inside of your teeth, where your tongue rests, so they will not be visible like braces or a removable retainer.
A fixed retainer can bring its own set of challenges, though, such as making it a bit more complicated to floss and limiting some food options, similar to braces.
Talk to Your Orthodontist
It can be helpful to talk with your orthodontist before deciding on which type of retainer is best for your needs. It’s typical for an orthodontist to recommend different types of retainers for the top and bottom teeth and their experienced input can be helpful to determine which retainer is best for you. Be sure to bring up any questions you have about your lifestyle, hobbies or any concerns you have so that they can address all your questions and help you to choose the retainer you’ll be most comfortable with.
Call our Austin or Georgetown dental offices to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.