After My Braces are Removed, is a Retainer used Just for Maintenance?

We often get asked, “Are retainers used just for maintenance after my braces are removed?” This is such an important question that we thought it worthwhile to take a few moments to address this common query.

The use of retainers for post-braces maintenance and continued correction is extremely important and vital to the overall success of your treatment. They can help to correct speech impediments, they can aid in fixing lingering gaps between your teeth, or an isolated crooked tooth, in addition to maintaining the correct placement and positioning of your teeth as brought about through your braces treatment.

Retainers are usually fabricated by Dr. Kadan, and it is customarily done by taking a mold, or impression, of your newly straightened teeth and then fabricating your retainer out of wire and acrylic material. There are two types of retainers after braces: fixed and removable, and depending on Dr. Kadan’s recommendation your retainers must be worn for several years, if not indefinitely, to keep your smile perfectly straight for life.

Choosing the type of retainer that is ideal for your needs after your braces are removed, in terms of fixed versus removable, usually involves an assessment of the clinical needs of your unique case. A fixed retainer is usually a thin wire worn across the back of your lower or upper front teeth, bonded in place with a specialized oral bonding cement.

Since the wire stretches across several teeth, a floss threader or similar cleaning device must be used to access the interproximal spaces between the teeth for teeth cleaning. This type of retainer takes a little more work to keep clean, but it often has the best outcomes because the bonded wire will hold your newly straightened teeth in perfect formation 24/7.

Another option is the removable type of retainer which is usually a combination of wire going across the front of your lower or upper front teeth held in place with a combination of acrylic material and hooks or clasps that insert in and around the back teeth to hold the retainer in place. Since it is removable, this type of retainer makes it easier to clean your teeth, but you have to remember to wear it daily. Initially, you will need to wear it all day and all night for at least three months. Then, if no movement is detected, you may be instructed to wear your retainer only at night or for a few hours in the daytime.

Of course, an obvious disadvantage of a removable retainer after braces is the fact that it can be lost or damaged and can even melt or change shape if it is exposed to high heat! Plus, with a removable retainer, the onus is on the patient to make sure that they are following the advice of Dr. Kadan and allowing an adequate amount of time with the retainer in place so that it contributes effectively to achieving your long-term tooth straightening goals.

With both types of retainers, periodic maintenance in the form of routine dental visits is required to check for cavities and to clean your straightened teeth.

Once your primary orthodontic treatment at Sam Kadan Orthodontics has been completed, the use of retainers after braces is a very important part of not only the continuing maintenance and ongoing correction of your teeth, but it will go a long way toward keeping, protecting, and further improving the perfected bite and smile that your braces formed for you over the previous few years.

You’ve invested a lot of money in orthodontic care, and using retainers after your braces are off is an important part of the treatment process meant to ensure a lifetime of happy and straight smiles. It’s about more than just maintaining the corrective effects of braces – wearing your retainers after braces is an important step in the continued quest for perfection in your smile, your speech, and your health.