How Long Do I Have To Wear My Retainer?

Orthodontic Treatment in Griffin & Locust Grove, GA

At Lindsey Orthodontics, our mission is to help patients of all ages achieve a beautiful new smile through orthodontic treatment. But before you know it, you’ll be visiting our Griffin or Locust Grove orthodontist office to finally get your braces removed or for a check-up after finishing up your last Invisalign aligner. This is an exciting time, as you'll finally get to see your new smile in all its glory – but you're not quite out of the woods yet. There's one more stage of the orthodontic treatment process left for you to go through: the retention phase.

What Do I Need to Wear Retainers?

When you finish with the active phase of orthodontic treatment, meaning braces or Invisalign, your teeth will be in new positions and you'll have a brand new smile. But the underlying ligaments and tissues that support your teeth have yet to adapt to this new alignment. That means that left on their own, your teeth will simply migrate back to their old positions, erasing your new smile! The retention phase helps keep your teeth in position long enough for your mouth to fully adjust to your new smile, protecting your tooth alignment and ensuring your new smile lasts you a lifetime.

Retention Plans & Types of Retainers

Every patient is different, and just as there are different options for orthodontic treatment, there are a number of different types of retainers available for the retention phase. No matter which type of retainer our Griffin orthodontist prescribes for you, your retainer will be custom-made to fit your smile, ensuring your teeth keep their proper positions and preventing regression. We'll normally fit you for a retainer the day we take your braces off or that you finish Invisalign treatment, and we'll work with you to choose the best retention plan for your needs and lifestyle. The different types of retainers include:

  • Hawley Retainer: The most common option for retention, Hawley retainers are made from a piece of molded acrylic with thin, specially-shaped wires protruding from the centerpiece. Hawley retainers are durable and cost-effective, and they're easy to pop in and out for eating and oral hygiene. We can also personalize Hawley retainers with different colors and patterns depending on your taste.
  • Essix Retainer: These retainers are similar in design to Invisalign aligners, made from a clear piece of molded plastic that fits directly on the teeth. Essix retainers are slightly less durable than Hawleys, but they're also invisible when worn, which makes them a desirable option for many patients.
  • Fixed Retainer: Also called bonded retainers, these are composed of a metal wire that's attached to the back of the teeth with dental cement. Unlike the other options, fixed retainers aren't removable – once placed, they'll stay in until your orthodontist removes them. That said, they can't be seen from the outside, and they're a great option for patients with a high risk of tooth regression.

Adjusting to Wearing Retainers

Just like when you started treatment with braces or Invisalign, you'll likely go through a small adjustment period when you first start wearing a retainer. Some patients may experience increased saliva production, and you may also notice difficulty speaking for the first few days. These issues are normal, and they should fade before the end of the first week. You'll also need to make sure to remove your retainer before eating or brushing teeth, and also make sure to brush both your teeth and retainer before putting it back in your mouth. In time, however, your mouth will fully adjust to your retainer and it'll become a normal part of your routine, just like braces did.

How Much Will I Need to Wear My Retainer?

When you first start retention therapy, you'll need to wear your retainer 24/7. Usually, this period lasts between a few months and a year, depending on your individual risk of tooth regression. Eventually, you'll be able to wear the retainer only at night, and further down the line, you'll only need to wear it a few nights a week. Every patient is different, and your Locust Grove orthodontist will work with you to determine the ideal schedule for your personal retention plan.

Cleaning & Caring for Your Retainer

As with braces and Invisalign, retention therapy can increase your risk of dental decay, which means taking proper care of your teeth and retainer is vital for dental health. If any food particles or bacteria remain on your teeth or retainer, the retainer can trap them against the teeth, accelerating the decay process. You'll need to carefully clean your retainer, brushing it and your teeth any time you remove it or put it back in, and you should also soak your retainer periodically in a glass of water with a denture cleaning tablet.

Replacing a retainer is both time consuming and costly, so outside of keeping it clean, it's important to take good care of your retainer. We often tell our patients that your retainer should only ever be in one of two places: either in your mouth or in the purpose-built case we provide when we give you your retainer. Furthermore, never expose your retainer to extreme heat, as this can warp or damage the retainer and prevent it from working properly.

Schedule a Retention Plan Consultation in Locust Grove or Griffin, GA

Retention is one of the most important aspects of any orthodontic treatment plan, and if you have more questions about retention, braces, or any other treatment we offer, we'd love to help. Contact us today to learn more about our office and the treatments we offer or to schedule a consultation at our Griffin or Locust Grove orthodontic office. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping you achieve your dream smile!