Maintaining Your Smile After Your Braces Come Off
Your braces will come off before you know it, and you’ll have your beautiful new smile. To keep your smile at its best, you still have some work to do.
Three Types of Retainers
The Hawley retainer is a thing piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer is simple, durable, easily removed, and can be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements. You can even pick your favorite color.
Clean aligner-type retainers are also popular because they look similar to Invisalign aligners and are nearly invisible. While these retainers are easy to remove, they’re less durable than Hawley retainers.
Fixed retainers may be a good choice when there’s a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position. This type of retainer is attached to the back of your lower teeth. Even though they can’t be removed, they are invisible so they shouldn’t get in your way.
While your retainer may feel weird at first, most people adjust quickly. You may notice that your mouth is producing more saliva than usual or that it’s a little harder to speak normally, but this should go away quickly as you adjust.
You’ll remove your retainer to eat and brush your teeth, which is a big change from braces.
You’ll probably start out wearing your removable retainer all day, every day for several months to a year. After that, you can most likely only wear it at night, and eventually only a few nights a week.
Maintaining Your Retainer
You’ll need to clean your retainer regularly to make sure that it stays fresh and germ-free. You can use a soft toothbrush and a few drops of dishwashing liquid or other liquid soap to clean removable retainers. You can also use denture cleaner or special retainer cleaners.
You can clean fixed retainers by brushing and flossing. A floss threader or interproximal brush can help you get it cleaned properly.
Always remember to carry and use a retainer case. You’d be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally thrown away. Also, don’t expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in hot water or leaving it too close to a heater. This can warp the retainer and make it unusable.
With proper care and use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.