A dental retainer is an orthodontic device used to keep the teeth in place after you have removed your dental braces. They can be removable or fixed. After your braces are removed, it takes about a year for the ligaments around your teeth to get hard so that new position of your teeth can remain fixed. If you don’t use retainer, then the teeth can go back to their original position which is medically known as ‘orthodontic relapse’.
Indications of Retainers
- After braces: After removal of your braces, its absolutely necessary that you should get your retainer because there are very high chances of orthodontic relapse especially in children because they have growing teeth and jaws but they are recommended for every person irrespective of age.
- For minor malocclusion: Dental retainers can also be used to correct some minor malocclusions for which you don’t require prior fixation of dental braces.
- Tongue thrust: A condition where your tongue comes out in between your upper and lower teeth while speaking. Special retainers known as tongue cage retainers are beneficial as it prevents the tongue from going forward when you speak
- Bruxism: It comes under temporomandibular disorders. Bruxism means grinding of teeth at night because teeth are not able to meet properly when mouth is closed. Special retainers help these people by preventing the contact of teeth, thus grinding is avoided.
Types of retainers
There are several types of retainers and your orthodontist will advice you the most suitable retainer according to your need
- Fixed retainers: They are glued to the back of your teeth and you can not take them off. They are rarely used because they have lots of disadvantages.
- Removable retainers: These are of further two types
- Hawley retainers: Made up of flexible wire and a plastic mold which perfectly fits in your mouth. They last much longer, easier to clean. Main disadvantage is that they are easily noticed.
- Essix retainers: They are made up of clear transparent plastic like that of invisible braces. They are barely noticeable. Difficulty in cleaning, costlier are some of its disadvantages.
Side effects or problems with Retainers
There are only short term problems as:
- Slurred speech: The removable retainer of the upper jaw causes some speech defects but people become accustomed to it in 2-3 days and began to speak properly. Fixed retainers don’t affect speech
- Saliva secretion: People in the initial days experience a lot of saliva.
- Mouth sores: It only happens for first few days.
By assessing your condition your orthodontist will tell you the time period for which you have to wear your retainers. Some retainers have to be used for full time in first 6 months and after that only at night.
Caring of retainers
They can get easily damage if you don’t take care of them properly. To enhance the life of your retainers your must
- Maintain good oral hygiene: brushing twice a day, but don’t brush your Essix retainers as removable retainers are meant to be removed before eating and brushing.
- Soaking in water: You can soak your Hawley retainers but don’t soak your Essix retainers
- Avoid eating hard foods like nuts or any other things which can damage your retainers.
- American Dental Association