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Friday, December 2, 2011
A Happy Marriage: You and Your Retainer
Retainer, meet patient. Patient, meet retainer. Get to know each other well because you will be seeing a lot of each other. In fact, I now pronounce you patient and retainer til death do you part. Yes, retainers are for life, but the good news is, your teeth are straight for life as well!
Retainers are completely loyal to you as long as you are loyal to them. But if you should decide that you would rather be single for awhile, when you come back to your retainer, the retainer may not be the right fit for you anymore. So what happens when your retainer doesn't fit? Well, it's time to schedule a visit with me. The best case scenario - I'll make you a new retainer. Worst case scenario - you will need to start treatment all over again to get your teeth straight again.
If you have found that you haven't been tried and true to your retainer and it isn't fitting right anymore, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible. If you think that all hope is lost, it might not be. There are affordable products available that can help make small changes - perhaps that's all you need. Either way, it's best to see an orthodontist just to make sure your bite hasn't shifted and that everything is aligning properly.
After you have finished your treatment and have been in retention (wearing a retainer) for over a year, I always recommend that my patients schedule a yearly appointment to make sure that everything is fitting properly.
There are a few different kinds of retainers. I've highlighted a couple of them below:
Hawley retainers are very common and you probably have seen this type of retainer before. These retainers are removable, and usually gum-colored, but they are available in a number of different colors and patterns. They are a great option for most patients and are a sturdy, reliable retainer.
This is a fixed retainer and is a permanent retainer, so it cannot be removed. It consists of a passive wire bonded to the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth. The wire is thin and barely noticeable. This is a great option for patients who aren't compliant, lose retainers, or don't want to deal with a removable retainer!
For Invisalign and Invisalign Teen patients, Vivera retainers are a good option. They are clear, just like aligners, but are thicker than typical aligners to help hold the teeth in place. These are nice retainers, but for long term, permanent use, I try to encourage other types of retainers.
Spring aligners can serve multiple functions. In addition to being a retainer, they can also be used as a night guard because they are made from a hard acrylic. Spring aligners are also great for making minor adjustments to teeth.
Retainers are essential to keeping your teeth, jaw, and bite in the alignment they were in when you got your braces off and finished your treatment. The key to a happy marriage? Wear your retainer.
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