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The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer

After months and months of braces or clear aligners, nothing beats the moment you finish your treatment. But before you pat yourself on the back and move on, you still have to do a few things to maintain the new, straight smile you worked so hard to get. That’s where your custom-made retainer comes in.

At Invisible Braces in Houston, Texas, our experienced team has several options to help you get the perfect smile and choose the right retainers. We can help you preserve your new smile and establish great retainer-wearing habits.

How retainers work

A retainer basically does what their name implies: They retain your teeth’s position. That’s because, even when you have braces or other orthodontic treatments straighten and reposition your teeth, they can return to their original placement over time. The chance of this happening is also far higher immediately after finishing your teeth straightening treatment.

Fortunately, a custom-made retainer helps keep your teeth in place for the months and years following your corrective treatment. Over time, you can typically start reducing the number of hours you wear your retainer each day as your teeth become more solidly established in their new position. 

Not all retainers are equal

It may surprise you to learn that there are several types of retainers, and they each dictate how many hours a day it is worn. Our team offers several different retainer options, depending on what kind of dental treatment you’ve had done.

Hawley retainers

The most recognizable retainer type is the Hawley retainer. These traditional retainers come in either rubber or clear plastic material. This material rests against your gums for comfort, and a wire runs along the outside of your teeth to hold them in place. You can remove a Hawley retainer as needed for brushing, flossing, or eating. 

Clear retainers

More modern retainers come in clear plastic perfectly molded to the exact shape and contour of your new and improved smile. These clear retainers slip on over your teeth and fit snugly, which keeps your teeth from shifting or moving. Like Hawley retainers, you can remove them as needed. However, unlike a Hawley retainer, these clear options are almost invisible. 

Fixed retainers

As you can probably guess, a fixed or permanent retainer stays in your mouth all the time. These retainers rely on a thin wire that curves behind the upper and or lower arches of your teeth. We fix them in place by bonding them to your teeth with dental cement. 

In most cases, you can expect to wear a fixed retainer for a few months, but our team will check it periodically and offer personalized recommendations. This retainer is a great option if you have trouble remembering to wear your retainer regularly.

How to wear your retainer

Our team recommends a daily retainer plan for removable retainers. You should plan on wearing your retainer as much as possible for the best results, especially during the first months after completing your teeth straightening treatment. Eventually, you can start wearing your retainer only at night until you reach the six-month mark. 

After six months, you can often start wearing your retainer for a few hours a day. 

How establishing a routine can help

Unfortunately, when you don’t wear your retainer as directed, you run the risk of letting your teeth shift back into their original position, or even drift into a new spot. It’s crucial to follow your retainer recommendation closely. If you have problems remembering to put in your retainer, a fixed retainer could be the best solution. 

As part of your new retainer routine, make sure to practice good oral hygiene, too. Because retainers sit in your mouth, they can easily trap bacteria around your teeth and gums, which puts your oral health at risk. Remember, your dental health and good orthodontic results go hand in hand. Do you have questions about SureSmile® clear aligners, traditional braces, or retainers? Contact our office in the Houston Heights neighborhood at 713-300-9765 or book an appointment online with our scheduling tool. 

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