Retainers are an important part of orthodontic treatment. They work to ensure your smile stays as straight and beautiful as the day your braces come off. But many of our patients have questions about retainers – how to wear them, which retainer is right for them, etc. Riverdale Family Orthodontics has some answers to some of the most common questions.

Why do I need a retainer?

If you didn’t wear a retainer after your braces are removed, your teeth would try to go right back to their old locations. That’s because the periodontal ligament is elastic, and it, along with the bones and other tissue, need a chance to get used to where the teeth moved to. The bone that holds your teeth in place must solidify while the periodontal ligament also gets used to how it was moved. The retainer works to ensure that the teeth stay put, allowing for the bone, tissues, and ligaments of your mouth to become set.

Are there different types of retainers?

Yes, there are three main types of retainers.

  • Clear plastic retainers are popular and are made of molded plastic. They look similar to clear aligners and have more patient acceptability due to their esthetics.
  • Hawley retainers are retainers that consist of a metal wire that goes in front of the teeth, attached to an acrylic piece that sits on the palate or at the bottom of your mouth.
  • Bonded retainers consist of a metal wire that is bonded directly to the back of the teeth. They are generally reserved for the patients who may have the highest chance for relapse.

Your orthodontist will determine which retainer is the most ideal for your situation.

How much do retainers cost?

The cost of your first set of retainers is included in your overall cost for treatment in our office and there are additional fees for broken or lost retainers. Our office has a program for additional sets of retainers for those who would like backup retainers; please inquire within. You can never be too careful and prepared if your dog gets to your retainers! (It does happen!)

How long will I need to wear my retainer?

Again, this is determined by your orthodontist. Every case is different, and every patient will be prescribed retainer wear that is unique to their situation. You may need to wear your retainer around the clock for the first few months and then only at nighttime later on. Or, you may only need to wear your retainer to bed. Your orthodontist knows your mouth and what will be best.

What happens if I forget to wear my retainer for a while?

This depends on how long “a while” actually is. If it’s only a few days or a week, return to normal retainer wear as soon as possible. If it’s an extended amount of time, you may find your retainer no longer fits. In this case, you’ll need to see your orthodontist to have a new retainer made or see what additional steps should be taken.

Is it possible to only wear a retainer if I have just a mild issue?

Retainers are not made to withstand the forces require to move teeth to their new locations. Even mild malocclusions may require braces or clear aligners to correct them.

Is wearing a retainer painful?

No, your retainer should not cause you pain, but you will need a few days to adjust to the new appliance. If you have any problems with your retainers, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist. There may be a fit issue that is causing discomfort.

Will my retainer cause issues with my speech?

You will need a bit of time to get used to your retainer. You may notice in the first several days that your mouth creates more saliva. This is a natural reaction to having the new appliance in your mouth. You may also need some time to adjust how you speak with them in. The retainer may impact your tongue’s movements slightly, so practice speaking with the retainer in to get the hang of it.

How long will my retainer last?

Your retainer should last for many years depending on if you grind, clench, play sports etc. If you notice any damage, including scratches or cracks, be sure to see your orthodontist to have a new one made.

The ultimate success of your orthodontic treatment depends on you following your treatment plan. That includes wearing your retainer as directed and taking proper care of it to ensure it lasts. If you ever experience issues or have questions, you can call our office. We are always happy to help!