You may not like to hear this, but after you get your braces off, that’s not the end. Nearly every person who wear braces is itching to get them off the minute they’re placed.
I hate to burst your bubble, but you’ll most likely need to wear a retainer for months, years, or indefinitely.
Getting braces removed is only the beginning.
What Is A Retainer After Braces?
An orthodontic retainer post-braces helps keep your teeth stay put. This is so you can have the same bite and same beautiful smile. If you don’t wear this special retainer, your teeth could shift over time and undo what the braces did.
The orthodontist would basically take a mold of your teeth and making a custom retainer based on that. Typically, you’ll need to wear this retainer for several years or even indefinitely.
Types Of Retainer After Braces
You’ll get one of two types of retainers: removable or fixed. Choosing one comes down to what the orthodontist determines as necessary, what you prefer, and what the long-term maintenance will look like.
A removable retainer consists of a piece of wire that goes across the front of the teeth. That wire connects to a piece of acrylic matierial that sits on the roof or floor of your mouth, depending on if the retainer is for you upper or lower teeth.
This design holds your teeth in place while also allowing you to easily remove it when eating or drinking. You will have to wear it every day all day. Eventually, they’ll probably instruct you to wear it only at night, as long as your teeth have not shifted.
The downside of a removable retainer is that it can get lost or broken. Also, if it gets exposed to high heat, it could melt. So if you were to take it out and set it in the sun accidentally, it could get deformed. And retainers cost a few hundred dollars. Hence, the need for a protective retainer case.
The most common type of removable retainer is probably Hawley, but there are also high-quality clear retainers like Essix, Vivera, and Zendura. These are similar to invisible teeth braces, which are used as more of an alternative to traditional braces.
As for a fixed retainer, it’s similar to the design of a removable retainer except that it’s bonded in place with cement (similar to braces cement). So there would be a wire that goes across the front of the teeth and connects to a plastic-like material behind the teeth.
And, as its name suggests, it is in your mouth 24/7. Only the orthodontist can remove it.
One downside of a permanent retainer is that it can be difficult to clean around it. Because you can’t take it out before brushing or flossing, you’ll just have to work around the device.
How Long Do You Need To Wear A Retainer After Braces?
If you’re expecting an clear answer to this question, we’re sorry to disappoint. But, realisitically, nobody — not even your orthodontist — can give you an exact time.
Because retainers are customized to each patient, the timeframe will be different. Also, not every patient does a perfect job of cleaning, maintenance, and diligence in wearing the device, so that could affect the time you need to wear the retainer.
So the best way to get an idea of how long you’ll need to wear your retainer and how often is to speak with your orthodontist.
Results of Not Wearing Retainer After Braces
If you don’t wear your retainer as instructed, some bad things could happen. Your teeth could shift back to where they were before. And this could lead to discomfort, unsightliness, and the loss of the confidence you had built up thanks to a straight smile.
Here are some tips for getting the best results from your retainer after braces:
- Diligently follow the instructions from your orthodontist
- Brush your removable retainer just as you would your teeth and gums
- Try to brush what you can of your permanent retainer to keep it as clean as possible
- Soak your removable retainer twice a week in a denture solution
- Use mouthwash if you wear a permanent retainer (but make sure it’s one that won’t damage your retainer or loosen the cement)
- Keep your retainer out of high heat (110 degrees or more)
- Don’t let little children or pets get near your removable retainer
Do these things along with any instructions from your orthodontist and you’ll make the best of your retainer!
Retainers After Braces Cost
Retainers aren’t cheap. And this is on top of the very high cost of braces. So it’s important to take care of yours as best you can.
One retainer (upper or lower) can cost anywhere between $150 to $300, so if you need a retainer for both upper and lower, it will be double that. Replacement retainers, which you’d get if yours was lost or damaged, can cost between $70 and $250.
And that’s just removable retainers. Fixed bonded retainers can set you back as much as $500.
Retainer Care & Maintenance
On top of following the tips we mentioned earlier, there are some more things to consider when caring and maintaining your retainer.
You should still be visiting your dentist on a regular basis — your dentist or dental hygienist can inspect your retainer to make sure it’s still fitting right and it’s staying clean.
And when cleaning your retainer, don’t use regular toothpaste as it can wear down the acrylic surface, leading to a buildup of bacteria. Instead, you should let it soak in a denture cleaner and brush with just a wet toothbrush.
- A retainer after braces is a device that holds your straightened teeth in place so they don’t shift over time.
- You can get either a removable retainer or a permanent retainer, depending on what your orthodontist deems necessary and what you prefer.
- It’s difficult to say exactly how long you’ll need to wear your retainer after having braces, but it can be months, years, or indefinitely.
- Not wearing or maintaining your retainer can undo everything your braces did. Your teeth can shift back to where they were before the braces procedure, so it’s important to wear and care for you retainer as instructed.
- Depending on the type of retainer you get, it can cost anywhere between $150 and $500.
- You should soak your retainer in denture cleaner, you shouldn’t use regular toothpaste on it, and you should continue to visit your dentist.