Retainers are used to hold the teeth in place, after treatment
is completed. They are needed because the bone has a memory
which wants to move your teeth back to where they were.
A retainer can not move any teeth, it can only retain them
where they are. It is sometimes confused with a Spring Retainer,
which can move the teeth a little bit.
A spring retainer is more correctly called a removable appliance.
It is only good for rotating or tipping a tooth; which is
minor movement. It can not move the roots of the teeth or
the jaws, so it can not correct a deep overbite or crowding.
It looks like a retainer with metal levers (springs) on
Retainers can be made from plastic, wire, or a combination
of the two. The standard retainer is the Hawley, which is
made of plastic on the inside and wire along the outside
of the teeth. This acts to retain the teeth in a narrow
groove between the plastic and the wire. The plastic can
be ordered in different colors and a sticker can be placed
on the inside, if you like. It must be worn to be effective,
since it is removable. Another removable type is the clear
Retainers will effect your speech, in the beginning. This
is because the plastic, on the roof of the mouth, will take
up space that the tongue normally uses in pronunciation.
Certain words are more difficult to say than others. After
three days of wearing them, your tongue will have adapted
to this and your speech will be normal again. If you are
having trouble pronouncing words correctly, then practice
reading out loud. The more you practice, the quicker your
speech will return to normal. If you do not wear them because
you are embarrassed about the way you speak, then your teeth
will move out of alignment. If they move too far out of
alignment, then your retainers will not fit and you will
need braces again to make them straight.
Fixed retainers are made of wire that is bonded (glued)
to the inside of the lower front teeth. These are used in
cases in which the lower front teeth were crowded to start
with and teeth were not removed to correct the crowding.
They are also good for the forgetful patient, as they can
not be taken out or lost.
You are suppose to wear your retainers all of the time for
the first six months. After that, you can wear them at night
only. Some people may need to wear their retainers full
time for an even longer period of time, to prevent any shifting
of the teeth. In some cases, permanent retention may be
necessary. The retention period is an important part of
your overall treatment and should not be ignored.
Here are some recommendations for the proper care of your
place the retainer appliance in your mouth. Use a mirror
to see how to place it the first few times.
Wear them all of the time, for the first six months. You
may remove them to eat, but remember to place them in
the retainer case to avoid breakage, being forgotten,
or wrapped in a napkin and discarded.
Brush your teeth and the retainer after each meal with
your regular toothbrush and toothpaste.
Avoid keeping the appliances in excessive heat, such as
the car dashboard, as this will distort them.
Keep the appliances away from pets and small children,
who may break or lose them.
Always bring the appliances to each appointment, so they
may be checked and adjusted as needed.
To correct your speech the first few days of wearing these,
practice reading out-loud from a book or favorite magazine.
After the first six months, they can be worn at night
only. After 24 months, they can be worn one night a week.