Most people who have worn braces must wear a retainer after the braces are removed, and sometimes retainers are used to close gaps in teeth, help with speech issues, or solve medical problems. These custom-made pieces of plastic and metal fit into the top of your mouth and teeth. No two retainers are identical, because they fit only the one patient’s mouth they are made to fit.
Why do I need to wear one?
The most common purpose of retainers is to help your teeth stay in their new positions after braces. The retainer minimizes the natural shifting of your teeth. Sometimes braces aren’t necessary and retainers can do the job alone, such as moving only one tooth or closing a small space. In addition to shifting teeth, retainers can help problems like tongue thrusting, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and teeth grinding.
What does wearing a retainer feel like?
Your orthodontist will customize your retainer to fit only you. It may feel strange at first, but you’ll get used to it in a short time. Certain teeth might feel slight pressure and be sore a few days, but this is normal and will go away. See your orthodontist if you experience lingering pain or rubbing against your gums. You may need to adjust to speaking with your retainer in your mouth, and it’s normal to have an increased saliva flow at first.
How do I take care of it?
The most important thing is not to lose your retainer. It is one of the most commonly lost or misplaced items people own! Try to keep it in the same place when you’re not wearing it. Also, ask your orthodontist about soaking your retainer when not wearing it to protect the plastic from drying and cracking. Don’t put it near anything too hot because it can warp, and avoid bending the wires. Since your retainer is in your mouth along with bacteria and plaque, ask your orthodontist for tips on how to best clean it every day.