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Why retainers after braces? Many people who have had braces are told to wear a retainer after their braces are removed.
Why do they need a retainer after all the time they spent with braces?
For several months after braces are removed, there is a high chance of relapse. The bone and tissue around the teeth have been moved by the braces, and the retainers help to keep the oral reorganization in place. After the bone and tissues set, then the retainers are no longer necessary.
Here are some more frequently asked questions about retainers.
1. What does a retainer feel like?
You may feel pressure on your teeth, similar to how it felt with braces. As your mouth adjusts to your retainer, there may be some soreness. If your retainer causes pain or cuts into your gums, then you need to let your orthodontist know immediately. Your retainer may need some adjustments.
2. How long does a retainer hurt for?
When you first start using a retainer, it should not hurt for more than 5 days. Continued pain after that amount of time indicates your retainer isn’t fitting you properly. Contact your orthodontist so your retainer can be adjusted to fit better.
3. Can retainers move teeth back?
This depends on the degree of shifting your teeth need. There are some patients whose teeth only need a very slight adjustment. In these cases retainers, instead of braces, may be used. However, if braces are used, the retainer is actually used to help prevent shifting. The retainers are many times preventative for teeth trying to move back to their previous position. After braces, the bone and tissue around the teeth need time to set. During that time a retainer is used to prevent teeth from moving.
4. How long do I have to wear a retainer?
After braces, many orthodontists recommend wearing your retainer at night for a year. After a continuous year of wearing your retainer, many orthodontists advise patients to wear their retainer at night three to five times a week.
5. Are there side effects from wearing a retainer?
There are some possible side effects but none of them are serious. They may include:
- Mouth discomfort
- Temporary slight lisp
- Increased saliva
- Tightness against teeth
6. Are there different types of retainers?
There are three types of retainers.
- Hawley retainers: Made of plastic and wire. They are molded to fit the mouth and stay in place. They are made to fit the roof of your mouth and are removable.
- Clear/Essix retainers: This is a plastic, removable retainer. It is molded to your upper and lower teeth. It is made of clear plastic, so it is invisible.
- Fixed retainers: as the name suggest, these are not removable. They are placed behind your teeth so they won’t be visible.
7. How do I take care of my retainer?
A retainer, like teeth, can be cleaned by brushing it with toothpaste. If you have a removable retainer always put it in its container when it isn’t in your mouth. Having a safe, clean place for the retainer will help prevent contracting germs. Make sure the retainer is clean before putting it back in your mouth. Plastic retainers should be soaked in water from time to time to make sure they don’t get hard and crack. Also, special care to avoid heat with plastic containers should be taken as it can warp the shape.
It is natural for your tongue to want to play with the retainer. Avoid any tampering with the retainer, especially while it is in your mouth.
8. When should I clean my retainer?
Every time you brush your teeth you should clean your retainer with a soft bristled brush. A more thorough job of cleaning should be done at least once a week with a Retainer Cleaner to kill bacteria. Here are some signs that you need to clean your retainer:
- Your retainer smells or tastes bad.
- You notice a film on your retainer.
- There are whites spots on your retainer.
- It has been more than a week since you cleaned it thoroughly.
9. How do I clean my retainer?
Keeping your retainer free from bacteria is just as important as keeping your teeth healthy and clean. Here are some tips on keeping your retainer clean:
- Drink plenty of water. Water won’t clean your retainer thoroughly, but it will help prevent the growth of bacteria. It will also keep your retainer moist, preventing damage.
- Brush your retainer whenever you brush your teeth. Make sure to use a non-whitening toothpaste, and rinse it well before putting it back in your mouth.
- Use white vinegar to help remove stains and odors.
- Mouthwash doesn’t just kill bacteria growth in your mouth, it can also be beneficial for your retainer.
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10. Can you use denture cleaner on retainers?
Yes. You can use any brand of denture cleaner to clean your retainer. Simply place your retainer in about a cup of cool water with denture cleaner and let it soak for about 15 minutes.
11. Can I eat while wearing my retainer?
While it is fine to drink water while wearing your retainer, it should be removed for all other foods and beverages. Always brush your teeth after eating and before putting in your retainer.
12. How often will my retainer need to be replaced?
The life of a retainer depends largely on the user. Some people need to replace their retainer yearly. Some retainers will last two or three years. Some people have been able to keep their retainers for up to twenty years.
13. When should I replace my retainer?
Everyone is different, but here are three tips for knowing when you need to replace your retainer:
- It no longer fits correctly.
- Your retainer gets damaged.
- Your retainer is worn out from use.
14. How much does a retainer cost?
Thankfully, retainers are usually included in the cost of braces. Sometimes replacement retainers are also covered in the plan. However, if a replacement retainer is not covered in the fee, then you can expect to spend anywhere from $140 to $500 for a set.
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