Congratulations! You’ve done the hard work of wearing the braces, and can now proudly show off your straight, pearly whites! Even though the main treatment is over, you still need to take care of your teeth.
In addition to oral hygiene, you need to wear your retainers based on the instructions provided to you. This is because the mouth is a dynamic, living space, and teeth are constantly changing position in order to adapt to the changes in your muscles and bones. This change usually involves mal-alignment in the lower front teeth, and it occurs most commonly during late teens and early twenties. So make sure you wear the retainers as instructed to ensure the teeth stay straight and in proper alignment!
There are a few different types of retainers that you can use after your braces treatment is complete.
Essix retainers are clear plastic retainers, similar in appearance as Invisalign trays. They’re nearly invisible, easy to wear, durable, and provide excellent retention.
The Hawley retainer is probably the type of retainer you have in mind when you think of a retainer. It has a metal wire that wraps around the teeth, with a pink (or any other colours that you like) acrylic piece that sits on the inside. The Hawley retainer had been around for a very long time for a good reason, it just works! It is very durable, it allows for flexibility of adjustments, and it can be tightened to make sure no spaces open up after treatment.
A Fixed retainer consists of a metal wire that is bonded to the inside of the teeth. The retainer can’t be removed, hence the name “Fixed” retainer. These retainers are used when there was dramatic tooth movement during treatment and the risk of relapse is high. Fixed retainers require special attention as they require a specific flossing technique. It is important to use a floss threader but also to be gentle to avoid damaging the wire or breaking the bond. It is very important to keep this area clean to maintain healthy teeth. Fixed retainers do need to be checked on a more routine basis to make sure that they are still effectively holding your teeth in place.