The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer

When you think about orthodontic treatment, most of the attention goes to the wealth of orthodontic treatment choices patients now have. You can go the traditional route with standard metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign®, and more. Advances have also hastened reaching your treatment goals considerably. 

A critical element of orthodontic treatment that doesn’t get the spotlight enough is the retainer. Despite the fact that it’s often overlooked, It plays a pivotal role in your treatment.  

Wayne Hickory, DMD, MDS, and the entire team at Embassy Row Orthodontics are invested in providing the best in patient education, so you can not only choose the best orthodontic treatment option for you, you can gain a complete understanding of your unique treatment journey, from choosing the appropriate corrective modality to proper maintenance care.

My braces corrected my orthodontic issue, now what?

You’re dazzled by your refined bite and stunning smile. You know what it took to get there, too. Time, great self-care, and the right orthodontic treatment plan, courtesy of Dr. Hickory. 

But did you know that a most important part of your treatment happens after your braces come off? As its name implies, a retainer allows you to retain the results of your orthodontic treatment.

Once your braces or Invisalign aligners are removed, your retainer — a customized orthodontic appliance — ensures that the straightening and restructuring that your orthodontic treatment fueled isn’t for nothing. Simply, if you opt for orthodontic treatment, be prepared to have a retainer as part of your self-care picture for the long term. 

Without the essential help of a retainer, your teeth will shift again and become unaligned. 

What type of retainer is best for you?

You’ve got two options when it comes to retainers: removable and permanent. Your choice depends on your lifestyle and your desire and ability to do what’s necessary, day to day, to keep a removable retainer in tip-top shape. 

Removable retainers are the right choice if you want to have the flexibility of being able to eat and drink freely, with no sensation of anything being in your mouth. You can also brush and floss without being concerned with the placement of your retainer. 

With this removable option, you get a customized plan from Dr. Hickory for how many hours per day you should have it in place. Most patients wear their removable retainer continuously for nine months, and then switch to wearing it only when they sleep from then on. 

If you choose what’s known as a fixed retainer, it stays in place all the time. Dr. Hickory places it by connecting lightweight stainless steel wire to anywhere from four to six of your upper teeth. This attached wire serves as a sturdy foundation for your teeth by preventing them from shifting to where they were before, or in a new way. 

Aside from a device we give you to help floss underneath your wire, your dental hygiene routine stays pretty much the same. 

Retainers aren’t immune to wear and tear

Retainers are the go-to post-orthodontic treatment option that guarantee success and prevent backsliding from your “just got my braces off” moment of triumph! That said, retainers get lost, worn, and damaged. This isn’t the end of the world, however. If your traditional retainer has seen better days, we can craft a new one for you. 

We also offer our patients an innovative retainer option called Vivera®. Whether you had traditional braces or Invisalign treatment, these completely customized retainers — manufactured using the same technology as Invisalign braces — serve you well because they’re incredibly sturdy and protective.

Whether you choose a standard removable retainer or a Vivera appliance, you’ll need to observe specific cleaning and care protocols, which Dr. Hickory reviews with you. 

The teeth have an urge to shift back to their original, pre-orthodontic treatment positions, but your retainer prevents this and preserves your healthy bite and straight smile. Embrace your retainer, and you guarantee that you won’t suffer “smile relapse.” 

Contact the Embassy Row Orthodontics office at 301-825-5140 or reach out to us through our website. When you visit our historical, yet state-of-the-art office, be sure to keep an eye out for Chouko, part patient whisperer/wonder dog, part office PR guru!

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