Orthodontic Retention

Secure Your Smile for Life with Orthodontic Retention

Your braces are finally off, and your smile is beautifully straight and, best of all, metal-free! However, your orthodontic journey still needs to be completed. To keep your smile looking picture-perfect, you must wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize your end results. 


Retainers control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after braces to keep teeth in their correct alignment. At the same time, the surrounding gum, bone, and muscles adjust to the new positioning of your teeth. Learn more here.


What is Orthodontic Retention?

Orthodontic retention refers to maintaining the position of teeth after bracing. The main goal of retention is to ensure that the teeth remain in their new place and do not relapse back to their original position. It is an essential step in the overall orthodontic treatment process and should not be overlooked.


How Do I Care For My Retention Devices?

Retainers should be cleaned daily with a toothbrush and mild soap or denture cleaner. Avoid hot water, as it can warp the retainer. And it should be kept in its case when not in use.


During the retention period, it is typically recommended to visit the orthodontist for retention check-ups every 4-6 months to ensure that the teeth remain in the desired position. The orthodontist will examine the teeth and adjust the retention device if needed.


What Are the Different Types of Retainers?

Traditional removable retainers: These are custom-made for your mouth and consist of a metal wire on the outside of the front teeth. It is attached to an acrylic arch worn on the mouth's roof. They can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue to make slight movements as needed.


Aligner-style retainers (Essix retainers): These look very similar to clear aligners and are a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. They can fit over the entire arch of your teeth or only from canine to canine (clip-on retainer). They are produced from a mold of your newly aligned teeth.


Fixed retainers: These are wires bonded behind the bottom or top teeth. They are usually required no more than a year after wisdom teeth have been extracted but are often kept in place for life.


What Are the Pros and Cons of Retention?

Removable retainers are easy to remove for eating and hygiene routines but can get lost easily.


Fixed retainers are great if you want to avoid keeping track of it or worry about wear time. But teeth with fixed retainers require extra attention to remove tartar while flossing. Patients often use floss threaders to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the cemented retainer and the teeth.


​​How Long do I Need to Wear My Retainer?

The time required for retention varies depending on the individual case. Still, it is typically recommended to wear retainers for at least six months to a year after treatment. Follow this link to learn more.


Following the orthodontist's instructions for wearing the retention device is essential. Not wearing the retainer as directed can lead to a relapse of the teeth, which can require additional treatment. It is also necessary to clean the retainer regularly to remove plaque and bacteria. 


How Often Should I See My Orthodontist for Check-ups During Retention?

It is typically recommended to visit the orthodontist for retention check-ups every 4-6 months to ensure that the teeth remain in the desired position.


How Long Can I Go Without Wearing My Retainer?

It is recommended to wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist. Going without wearing your retainer for even a short period can cause your teeth to shift. If you go a week without wearing your retainer, you may notice a small amount of relapse, small spaces, or rotations. 


If you go a month without wearing your retainer, your bite may begin to change. It is best to consult with your orthodontist for personalized advice on the retainer wear schedule.


In summary, orthodontic retention is essential in maintaining the teeth' position after bracing. It is vital to wear the retention device as directed, clean it regularly, and visit the orthodontist for regular check-ups during the retention period. By following these guidelines, patients can ensure that their teeth remain in their new position and that their orthodontic treatment is successful.


Get Your Orthodontic Retention with Your Texas Orthodontist

Brazos Valley Orthodontics is happy to be your provider for Texas orthodontic care. If you have questions about treatment plans, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are delighted to meet you and help you achieve a perfect smile.