Following the removal of the braces, orthodontic therapy continues. The retention phase, which comes after the next stage, is crucial to maintaining your new smile. However, lifelong retention is necessary to maintain results over time. Due in part to their failure to continue wearing their retainers after adolescence, adults make up a significant portion of the contemporary orthodontic patient population (often because this was not previously emphasised as much as it is now).
If you haven’t worn your retainer in a while, you could realise that it doesn’t fit as well as it once did. The function of your retainer will be discussed in this article, along with what to do if it no longer fits properly.
Here’s what Retainers do
Your teeth’s position is impacted by your braces, but everything surrounding them is also affected, including the ligaments, bones, and soft tissue. Your teeth need time to settle into their new positions once the orthodontist removes your braces; otherwise, they will soon revert to their original positions.
An item called a retainer fits over the teeth with exactly the right amount of pressure to hold them in place without causing further movement. The majority of patients will wear detachable retainers, either either wire Hawley retainers that the orthodontist can modify or clear plastic trays that go over the teeth.
Your retainer may first feel uncomfortable or press on your mouth, but this will pass as your mouth becomes used to it, much like with braces. Applying ice to the region or using an over-the-counter pain reliever should calm the inflammation. Long-lasting soreness is not typical and shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t wear your retainer. If the pain continues, an appointment with your orthodontist is required.
During the first few months after getting braces, the teeth might move very quickly. You’ll most likely be told by your orthodontist to wear your retainer for roughly 22 hours every day. This will require some self-discipline to ensure that you adhere to your therapy, unless you have a set retainer that you are unable to remove on your own.
Your orthodontist will decide between three and six months after braces are removed when you can transition from 24-hour to nocturnal retainer use. Use every night will continue for roughly 12 to 18 months. You should wear your retainer a few evenings a week indefinitely to keep your orthodontic effects long-lasting.
The problem for the majority of patients occurs after the crucial 18-month period, during which many patients stay compliant. Less than half of people who have braces for at least two years continue to wear them. The retainer you were given after getting braces may probably stop fitting after some time if you don’t use it because teeth naturally shift as we age.
How do I know if my retainer needs to be replaced?
The fit is incorrect if a retainer exerts little or no pressure on the teeth. Your teeth and the gums around can be harmed by a retainer that is overly tight. Additionally, the retainer could get caught, which would be a dental emergency for which you would require prompt attention.
While forcing a tight retainer in can harm the teeth, a retainer that is too loose won’t. Your teeth may shift as a result of the retainer’s inability to provide the necessary force for proper operation.
Your retainer will need to be amended or changed in certain circumstances.
When inspecting your retainer, if you see any plastic fractures, it’s time to order a replacement.
The retainer won’t have the strength necessary to keep your teeth in their current positions when these cracks spread.
A chipped retainer needs to be replaced as soon as feasible, much like a cracked one.
Chips can lessen the effectiveness of your retainer and, if they form sharp ends, can cut your cheeks or tongue.
You need a new retainer if it has holes or places where the plastic has thinned. The most frequent cause of this kind of retainer deterioration is bruxism. You may clench or grind your teeth at night or during times of stress or worry, which can cause damage to or wear down through your retainer at important pressure points.
If you have been using your retainer and it unexpectedly does not fit anymore, it is possible that you have worn it out over time or that you have damaged it in some way.
Clear plastic retainers are sensitive to heat, so if you leave one in a hot environment for an extended period of time, it can lose its proper shape. When cleaning or disinfecting your retainer, take care not to turn on the hot water tap too quickly or submerge it in boiling water.
You can wear your device without any issues even if it is tight since you haven’t worn it in a while but you can still put it in quite simply. In this circumstance, it is typical for the retainer to feel tight and to produce tooth discomfort. Until it feels comfortable once more, wear the retainer continuously. Then, you can resume wearing it as instructed.
It is never a good idea for you to try to push through pain to avoid an orthodontist appointment, and never wear the retainer if you have to force it over your teeth. It is preferable to make an appointment with an orthodontist so they can determine whether the teeth have relapsed if you are unsure whether it is safe to continue wearing an old retainer. A new retainer may usually rectify a little slip-up, but major shifting may call for more orthodontic care.
The length of the second cycle of orthodontic treatment will be reduced the earlier you recognise recurrence and begin it. Without treatment, your moved teeth will continue to shift, therefore identifying this early will drastically shorten the time it takes to reapply your braces.
When not in use, place your detachable retainer in a plastic case to keep it safe from harm and to make sure you never lose it. But because orthodontic offices get so many calls about missing retainers each year, do not put off getting a new one out of embarrassment.
Contact us right away to make an appointment with our orthodontists if you have concerns about your retainer.