http://www.beecroftortho.com/ – “This is the number one question that I get after I take someone’s braces. When we get their braces off, it would be a big celebration and then we give them the retainers. They would say, okay, how long do I have to wear my retainers? It’s a good question and it’s a valid question. So, I would like to talk about different kinds of retainers, why we use them and how long you need to wear them.
The retainer that we used most often is a clear plastic retainer and this is a representation of it. This is really nice for a couple of reasons. The number one reason is there are retainers that have a metal wire that go across the front teeth. Those have their pros and cons. There’s nothing worse than getting your braces off and all that metal out of your mouth and then putting a metal wire in someone’s mouth and say, “okay now you have to wear them full time for a few months”.
So, we use the clear plastic retainers, it works really well. This is a representation of someone’s upper teeth, nice and straight after braces and the clear retainer just kind of pops right in like that. It’s very form-fitting and very easy to get used to, even when speaking. Usually, you can get used to it within a day or two. It doesn’t irritate the tongue, lips and the very nice thing is it’s very snug all around the teeth. So, it’s not going to allow those teeth to move, twist and turn.
Why is this important? When you get your braces off, your braces have moved your teeth in to a position where they are not naturally accustomed. Your teeth were crooked for a reason. Usually, it’s because your mouth and its natural habitat, your tongue, cheek, lips, all those forces that were in place have caused your teeth to go to the position that they were in, initially. We’ve put them in almost unnatural position, the position that they don’t want to be in at first so it’s going to take a little bit of time for your teeth to get used to it and your mouth adapting. The retainers are going to keep your teeth in place as the tongue, lips and cheeks will be used to having the teeth there. Also, the teeth will kind of reorganize themselves in the bones.
The question I get is, “how long do I have to wear them?” We ask patients to wear their retainer for three months full-time. Those first three months, the teeth are going to tend to move the quickest. In three months full-time, you’re only taking the retainer out to eat, brush and during special occasions and things like big dates and public speeches. You need to wear them at least 22-23 hours a day and you’ll notice that if you take it out those teeth will move pretty quickly.
After about three months, we will see the patient again. If everything looks good and if they’ve been wearing the retainer well at that point, we will switch to night time wear and that’s really great for people. They don’t have to worry taking the retainer in and out at lunch, school or at work. They can just pop it in when they go to bed and take it out in the morning. It usually keeps the teeth where they need to be.
Do I have to put my retainer for the rest of my life? This is what I tell people, if you want the one hundred percent guarantee that your teeth will stay where they are, then the only way to do that is to wear the retainer. Everyone is a little bit different like some people can get away after a certain time or period from wearing the retainer. Other people’s teeth are going to be a little bit unstable just because of the place we put them and the natural environment of their mouth. Those people will need to wear their retainer a little bit more.
After about a year of wearing them at night, I let people know that now it’s your turn to be an orthodontist. When you take the retainer, in and out, you wanted to feel very passive on your teeth. You don’t want that tight feeling, “oh hey, my teeth have moved during the day, you don’t want that at all and that’s when you know that you need to wear your retainer a little bit more. So, if you have that passive feeling when the retainer comes in and out then you know okay, I can get away with wearing the retainer a little less maybe wear it once a week, couple times a month or wearing it for a month. If you’re going to do that, I would caution people to always have their retainer there and always try it in every now and then to make sure you’re getting that nice passive feeling.” – Dr. Matt Beecroft
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Beecroft Orthodontics, 10472 Georgetown Dr Fredericksburg , Virginia, Phone: 540-898-2200
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