Retention is the phase of orthodontic treatment which maintains the teeth in their orthodontically corrected positions. After your orthondontic treatment is finished, and your braces are removed, you will need retainers to hold your teeth in their new positions.
Why is retention necessary?
For 3 major reasons:
- The gums and tissues surrounding the teeth are affected by orthodontic teeth movement and require time for re organization when the fixed appliances are removed.
- Teeth may be in an unstable position after the treatment, so that soft tissue pressure constantly produces a tendency to go back to its original position.
- Changes which occur as a result of normal growth of the person may alter orthodontic treatment result.
Time period of wearing retention:
- Essentially full time for the first 3-4 months, but should be removed while eating.
- Continued on a part time basis for atleast year or more to stabilize after treatment. If you had gaps between your teeth before treatment, the retention period will be longer.
Look of the retainers:
The retainers are individually designed to prevent teeth from reverting to their original positions. Retainers can take the form of a removable appliance or a fixed wire bonded at the back of your front teeth or even removable clear retainers.
Removable clear retainers
- Relatively less expensive
- Can be quickly fabricated on the same day as appliance removal
- Full posterior coverage is advisable in order to reduce the risk of over eruption of teeth during retention
- They are significantly more effective than the metal retainer
Do I have to Wear Them All the Time?
Some retainers are used full-time for the first 6 months; after that, the retainers are worn only at night, for a few years. Fixed retainers are normally kept in place for 5 years.
Instructions for retainer usage:
Removable retainers should be taken out during eating, contact sports and when you brush your teeth. To clean the retainers, remove them first and brush them in tap water using a toothbrush and some toothpaste. Brush your teeth after this.
The safest place for your retainers is in your mouth. If you are not using the retainers they should always be kept in a box. There is a great risk of losing retainers if they are wrapped in tissue paper after you remove them from your mouth.
Retainers Affecting Daily Life
If you have a removable retainer in your upper jaw, it will take you one to two days to get accustomed to them and speak properly. It is normal to experience a lot of saliva in your mouth with a new retainer.
Always bring the box to store your retainers to be kept should you need to remove them. If you have a fixed retainer, you should spend more time to brush the back of your teeth. You have to brush all around the wire so that calculus will not form. You will be instructed on how to use dental floss with a floss-thread. Do remember not to use your front teeth to for biting hard foods or objects. Fixed retainers do not affect speech.